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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:2, Summer 2022

Wrecked Ships and a Remarkable Ring

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) recently announced an incredible find—the discovery of not one but two ancient shipwrecks off the coast of the ancient port city of Caesarea Maritima. The earlier shipwreck dates to the Roman period (c. 300 C.E.), while the other vessel comes from the Mamluk period (c. 1400 C.E.). The ships sank at the same place in Caesarea’s harbor more than a millennium apart. Within the wrecks, the IAA discovered a treasure trove of ancient artifacts, including coins, statues, pottery, and jewelry. Most remarkable of all, however, was an octagonal gold ring set with a green gemstone. The gem depicts a young shepherd wearing a tunic and holding a lamb on his shoulder—possibly the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16), one of the earliest known Christian symbols for Jesus. This hints that the ring’s owner may have been a wealthy Christian living in Caesarea, the same city where the apostle Peter baptized the first gentile Christian (Acts 10) and where the apostle Paul was put on trial (Acts 23-24).

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