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Archaeology in Israel: Tel Dor Inscription

(December 2016)

Archaeology in Israel:
Tel Dor Inscription

(December 2016)

Archaeology: Table of Contents | Major Discoveries | Dan

In January 2016, divers with the University of Haifa archaeology department discovered a statue base bearing a Roman iscription in the Mediterannean sea off of Tel Dor. The stone slab, thought to be approximately 1,900 years old, was uncovered just 1.5 meters deep after a storm shifted the seabed of the Bay of Dor; which had previously served as an ancient Roman harbor.

After clearing off various sea creatures that had attached themselves to the find, historians discovered that the rock's inscription included only the second known Roman mention of Judea; the first being the “Pontius Pilate stone” unearthed in 1961 at the ancient theater in Caesarea. In addition to this rare inscription, the statue base also contained the name of a yet unknown Romman Governor of Judea. Gargilius Antiquus was a name known to researchers from previous inscriptions, but they believed him to have been a governor in a province of Syria or Syria-Palaestina. This statue base found in the Bay of Dor confirmed that Gargilius Antiquus had, however, been a Governor of Judea shortly before the Bar-Kochba Revolt. It is speculated that Antiquus originally came from North Africa. He started his career as a junior Governor in Arabia around the year 115 C.E., and although it is unknown when exactly or for how long he Governed Judea, evidence suggests that he had a successful reign. Following his time as governor he was appointed proconsul of the newly established province of Syria-Palestina, and subsequently proconsul of Asia.

Although the discovery was made in January 2016, it was not announced until December 2016.

Source: Bohstrom, Philippe. “Divers find unexpected Roman inscription from the eve of Bar-Kochba Revot,” Haaretz (November 30, 2016)