Pontius Pilate is well known to Christians as the Roman governor who condemned Jesus to death.
But there was once a time when atheists attacked the Bible by claiming there was no historical evidence that he ever existed.
However, over the last century archaeologists have slowly discovered more and more evidence that proves these atheists wrong.
And this latest discovery goes even further, and proves that God can use all things, even Pontius Pilate, for His Glory!
As they tunneled beneath a Palestinian neighborhood south of old Jerusalem’s walls, a team of archaeologists uncovered an unexpected find: an enormous stepped road that once led to the foot of the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount was once the site of the Jewish temple, and now hosts the Haram esh-Sharif, one of the holiest sites in Islam.
The huge road, which is paved with massive slabs of stone, begins at the pool of Siloam, a ritual cleansing pool used by Jews in Jesus’ time.
The road then climbs for over a third of a mile through the most ancient section of Jerusalem, known as the City of David, before stopping at the Temple Mount.
At 26 feet wide, this massive street could have accommodated crowds of people streaming into the city. Its construction would have required at least ten thousand tons of limestone, which means it must have been carefully planned.
“We think it was a single project built at one time,” said Joe Uziel, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation team.
Uziel works for the Israel Antiquities Authority, and his work is often focused on historical findings in Jerusalem and its surrounding area.
Viewing the street as a single project built under one governor’s rule is important for context, added Uziel. Until now, many archaeologists had assumed that the construction of such a street would have stretched across several different rulers’ administrations.
The current archaeological team believes that this road’s construction was all due to Pilate, however.
The team has discovered more than one hundred Roman coins beneath the street’s massive paving stones. They’ve identified the coins as belonging to the time between the years 31 and 40 A.D.
Pontius Pilate was in power over Jerusalem for most of these years.
“Dating used coins is very exact,” said Dr. Donald T. Ariel, one of the team members. Many Roman coins are inscribed with the exact year they were minted, providing archaeologists precise information about the time period of the construction around the coins.
This information means “the street was built… only in the time of Pilate,” Dr. Ariel confirmed.
What does this mean for Christians’ understanding of Pilate?
It means that the Roman governor who washed his hands of Christ’s blood (Matthew 27:24) may have, through the construction of this road, brought millions of people into contact with the early church and therefore the Gospel.
Pilgrims and visitors to Jerusalem used this massive road, according to Uziel and his team.
They may have come to visit the Temple Mount at the end of the road, but it’s virtually impossible that they would have missed the disciples and other early followers of Christ during their stay in Jerusalem.
Not only that but Jesus Himself may also have walked on Pilate’s road!
The area of Jerusalem traversed by this street is a familiar location for those who have studied the Gospels.
Jesus healed a blind man at the pool of Siloam (John 9:1-11), and He visited the Temple Mount several times throughout His life on earth, both as a child (Luke 2:41-52) and as an adult (Luke 19:45-48).
While it’s not possible to know for sure whether Jesus walked on those limestone paving stones, it’s incredible to imagine uncovering the sites where He lived, walked, and worked miracles.
Now dubbed “Path of the Pilgrims,” the excavated road is being opened to the public as part of an archaeological park in Jerusalem. It’s a controversial topic, much like Pontius Pilate’s character and contributions to Christian history.
For those of us who believe in Christ, it’s always wonderful to see new archaeological discoveries from His time and from biblical history in general.
While we don’t need visible proof to believe that the events in the Bible occurred, it’s exciting to watch others come to faith through exploration and archaeology!
Pray for current and future excavations in Jerusalem and the Middle East.
May they bring more glory to God!