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Good Shepherd ring found in shipwreck

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  • Good Shepherd ring found in shipwreck

    Cool discovery. A small gold ring was discovered along with hundreds of other objects found in a 1700 year old shipwreck off the coast of Caesarea in the Mediterranean Sea. The

    According to Helena Sokolov, the Custodian of Coins for the Israel Antiquities Authority, who has studied the ring, the image is of the Good Shepherd, which portrays Jesus as a shepherd, and is rarely featured on a ring although it is fairly common in Christian art.

    Source: 'Good Shepherd' gold ring found in Roman-era wreck off Israel

    Israeli researchers on Wednesday displayed a Roman-era golden ring with an early Christian symbol for Jesus inscribed in its gemstone, found in a shipwreck off the ancient port of Caesarea

    The thick octagonal gold ring with its green gemstone bore the figure of the "Good Shepherd" in the form of a young shepherd boy in a tunic with a ram or sheep across his shoulders.

    The ring was found among a trove of third-century Roman coins, as well as a bronze eagle figurine, bells to ward off evil spirits, pottery, and a Roman pantomimus figurine in a comic mask, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

    A red gemstone with a carving of a lyre was also found in the relatively shallow waters, as well as remains of the wooden hull of the ship, the authority said.

    The size of the ring means that it may have belonged to a woman

    Caesarea was the local capital of the Roman empire in the third century, and its port was a key hub for Rome's activity, according to Helena Sokolov, a curator at the IAA's coin department who researched the Good Shepherd ring.

    Sokolov said that while the image exists in early Christian symbolism, representing Jesus as a caring shepherd, tending to his flock and guiding those in need, finding it on a ring was rare.

    The presence of such a symbol on a ring probably owned by a Roman operating in or around Caesarea made sense, given the ethnically and religiously heterogenous nature of the port in the third century, when it was one of Christianity's earliest centres.

    "This was a period when Christianity was just in its beginning, but definitely growing and developing, especially in mixed cities like Caesarea," she told AFP, noting the ring itself was small, implying that it may have belonged to a woman.

    And while Christianity was being practised in "underground" forums at the time, she said the Roman empire was relatively tolerant of new forms of worship including around Jesus, making it reasonable for a wealthy citizen of the empire to wear such a ring.

    Alongside the Roman-era finds, IAA divers also discovered in a second wreck nearby a trove of around 560 Mamluk-era coins dating from the fourteenth century.


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