The Good Shepherd Ring, discovered off the coast of Caesarea, is one of the earliest images used in Christianity
The Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archeology Unit has discovered ancient treasures from two shipwrecks off the coast of Caesarea in Israel. According to Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Marine Archeology Unit, “The ships were likely anchored nearby and destroyed by a storm.”
The artifacts included a special gold ring engraved with the figure of the Good Shepherd. The theme of the Good Shepherd runs through the entire Bible, in the Old Testament it says in Isaiah 40:11: “He feeds his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.” The picture is also one of the earliest and oldest images used in Christianity to symbolize Jesus as the compassionate shepherd of mankind. Jesus even called himself a shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
The ring was discovered near the port of Caesarea, a site of great importance in Christian tradition as it was one of the earliest centers of Christianity and hosted one of the first Christian communities. At first only Jews belonged to this congregation, and it was here that the apostle Peter baptized in Caesarea Acts. 10 the Roman centurion Cornelius.
Other valuables found were hundreds of Roman silver and bronze coins from the mid-3rd century AD and about 560 silver coins from the 14th centuryth Century Mamluk period. A bronze figure in the form of an eagle symbolizes Roman rule and a figure of a Roman pantomime in a comic mask.
The underwater remains also contained rare personal belongings of the shipwrecked. Among them was a beautiful red gem with a carved lyre on it. The lyre is called Kinor David (“David’s harp”) in Jewish tradition. According to 1 Samuel 16:23, King David played his harp for Saul: “Whenever the Spirit of God came upon Saul, David would take his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better and the evil spirit would leave him.”
According to Eli Eskozido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Israel’s shores are rich in sites and finds that constitute immensely important national and international cultural heritage. They are extremely vulnerable, which is why the Israel Antiquities Authority conducts underwater surveys to locate, monitor and salvage antiquities.”
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