Jesus ‘Good Shepherd’ Ring

Author: Nizar Halloun

Christ Good Shepherd Ring Credit Dafna Gazit Israel Antiquities Authority

Wednesday, December 22, 2021 hundreds of archeological objects discovered during marine excavations at the ancient city of Caesarea Maritime in the Mediterranean, in particular a gold ring that has remained underwater for 1,700 years and engraved with the figure of the Good Shepherd.

The objects were discovered in recent months off the shore of Caesarea, where two ships sank 1,700 and 600 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority (AIA) said.

The artifacts come from the wrecks of two ships dated to Roman and Mamluk times (around 1700 and 600 AD).

"The ships were probably anchored nearby and were wrecked by a storm," explain Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer, in charge of the underwater research for the Marine Archeology Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Coins and a gold ring
The discovered treasure includes hundreds of Roman silver and bronze coins dated to the middle of the 3rd century AD, a bronze figurine in the shape of an eagle, a symbol of Roman rule, numerous bronze bells intended for ward off evil spirits and a Roman pantomime figurine in a comic mask.

But it was above all the discovery of an octagonal gold ring, adorned with a green precious stone engraved with the image of a young shepherd in a tunic, carrying a ram or a sheep on the shoulder.

According to Helena Sokolov, AIA Custodian of Coins who has studied the ring, the image of the Good Shepherd, portraying Jesus as a shepherd guiding His people, although widespread in Christian art, rarely appears on a ring.

Being small, the jewel probably belonged to a woman, she estimated. Its discovery off Caesarea makes sense since the city was once the local capital of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century and its port was essential, Helena Sokolov told AFP.

"At that time, Christianity was in its infancy but was undeniably developing, especially in mixed cities like Caesarea," she told AFP. A red gemstone was also discovered in one of the wrecks.