Exploring the Mediterranean coast just south of Haifa, Israeli divers and archaeologists have discovered a rock bearing an inscription from the 2nd-century CE, which mentions a previously unknown Roman governor of Judea named Gargilius Antiquus. The Times of Israel reports:
The archaeologists were able to determine that Antiquus ruled over Judea just prior to a major revolt against the Roman empire, which lasted from 132 to 136 CE. The uprising was eventually crushed, resulting in the exile of Jews, and Emperor Hadrian’s renaming Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” and Judea “Syria Palaestina.”
The artifact, believed to be the base of a statue, was found in January 2016 as part of a maritime excavation at the Tel Dor archaeological site. The city had been an important port in Roman times and was active at least until the fourth century. The rock itself, measuring 70 by 65 centimeters and weighing over 600 kilograms, was covered in sea creatures when it was discovered.
“Not only were we able for the first time to identify with certainty the name of the ruler who oversaw Judea in the critical years of the Bar Kokhba revolt; this is also just the second time that the mention of Judea has been discovered in inscriptions traced back to the Roman era,” said Assaf Yasur-Landau of Haifa University, who was in charge of deciphering the text.
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