Five Bible characters that archaeology proves existed (2024)

Archaeologists have made astounding discoveries in the last few decades that prove many Biblical figures actually walked and breathed on Earth.

The existence of at least 50 people mentioned in the holy book has been identified through wall drawings, inscriptions on stone slabs and other material evidence.

One of the most significant finds was a slab bearing the name Pontius Pilate, the man who sentenced Jesus to death out of fear of losing his power over the Jews.

Another discovery included a cave found in the early 2000s, which archaeologists claimed was used by John the Baptist to anoint followers of Christ.

A stone uncovered in Caesarea Maritima (an Eastern Mediterranean city which was capital of Roman Judea) bears Pontius Pilate's name

Pontius Pilate's stone

The Roman leader who gave the order to crucify Jesus and then washed his hands in front of a crowd was a real and well-documented historical figure.

Pontius Pilate was a governed Caesarea, once located in Israel, from 26AD to 36 AD under thethe emperor Tiberius.

Pilate convicted Jesus of treason and sentence him to death by crucifixion.

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An Italian archaeologist discovered an ancient slab of limestone in 1961, which featured the name 'Pontius Pilate.'

The inscription also explained how he built a 'Tiberieum,' a temple in or near Caesarea dedicated to the then-reigning Roman emperor, Tiberius.

And dating of the stone showed it was created during the ruler's lifetime.

Pilate has also been mentioned by ancient writers including Jewish philosopher Philo, historian Josephus and Roman historian Tacitus.

Philo described Pilate as 'a man of a very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate … exceedingly angry, and…at all times a man of most ferocious passions.'

King Herod's tomb

King Herod, born in 73AD, was a Jewish leader who heard a prophecy that a son would be born as King of the Jews.

Herod then ordered 'the Massacre of the Innocents,' which saw every male infant killed in Bethlehem.

While the brutal order is not in history books, it is mentioned in the gospel of Matthew.

Archaeologists had sought the tomb of the tyrant in the town of Herodium, which was identified in 1838

Ehud Netzer holds a pieces of an elaborate sarcophagus believed to have contained King Herod's remains

The king was said to have died more than 2,000 years ago, but it was not until 2007 did archaeologists uncover his tomb - although his existence had been found on coins and in historical accounts.

Ehud Netzer of Hebrew University and histeam found had been working in Jerusalem, excavating a volcano-shaped hill calledHerodium.

Decades later on April 27, 2007, they hit a slab of pink limestone that later revealed Herod's elusive tomb.

However, the sarcophagus had been intentionally smashed - likely by Jewish rebels.

Other archaeologists have since suggested that the size of the tomb is too small for a king like Herod - and the debate rumbles on.

The cave of John the Baptist

Archaeologists uncovered a cave in 2004 that they claimed was where John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples.

The structure featured a cistern where 28 steps lead to an underground pool.

Archaeologists uncovered a cave in 2004 that they claimed was where John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples

A team led by British archaeologist Shimon Gibson excavated the cave, finding 250,000 shards from small jugs which may have been used in purification rituals

A stone used for foot cleansing and wall carvings themed around the Biblical figure were also uncovered that convinced Gibson the cave was used by John the Baptist. The entrance has since been made a shrine

A team led by British archaeologist Shimon Gibson excavated the cave, finding 250,000 shards from small jugs which may have been used in purification rituals.

A stone used for foot cleansing and wall carvings themed around the Biblical figure were also uncovered that convinced Gibson the cave was used by John the Baptist.

Shimon Gibson said, 'John the Baptist, who was just a figure from the Gospels, now comes to life.'

The Biblical figure is also said to have baptized Jesus, but it is unknown if the sacred event took place in the cave.

Not every archaeologist is convinced that there is enough evidence of John the Baptist - and some suggest that further proof is needed.

The apostle Philip's tomb

Philip was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and Italian archaeologist Francesco D'Andria believes he found his tomb in 2011 in Turkey.

The Bible states that Philip was present during 'the miracle of the five loaves and two fish,' which said Jesus turned the small amount of food into enough that fed 5,000 people - and Philip helped distribute the items.

Philip was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, and Italian archaeologist Francesco D'Andria believes he found his tomb in 2011 in Turkey

Philip, however, was crucified in 80AD after converting a ruler's wife.

The tomb was discovered while teams were excavating an ancient church that was built around the apostle's resting place.

The walls had drawings and features that pointed to Philip.

However, Philip's remains were missing, leading archaeologists to believe they were taken to Rome and placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Other reports from the 12th century have suggested his body is still in Constantinople.

The seal of Isaiah

A clay seal unearthed in Jerusalem in 2019 dating from the eighth century BC may bear the signature of the Prophet Isaiah, according to Dr Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Isaiah was said to have predicted the coming of the Messiah, which is found in the Book of Isaiah chapter 53.

In the Bible, Isaiah is described as a close advisor to Hezekiah, who was the king of Judah, and the clay seal that may read 'Prophet Isaiah' was found near one bearing Hezekiah's name in the Ophel, an ancient fortified area of Jerusalem.

A clay seal unearthed in Jerusalem in 2019 dating from the eighth century BC may bear the signature of the Prophet Isaiah

'We found the eighth-century BC seal mark that may have been made by the prophet Isaiah himself only 10 feet away from where we earlier discovered the highly-publicized bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah.

'If it is the case that this bulla is indeed that of the prophet Isaiah, then it should not come as a surprise to discover this bulla next to one bearing King Hezekiah's name given the symbiotic relationship of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah described in the Bible.'

If confirmed to be Isaiah's seal, it would be the first evidence of the prophet outside the Bible.

Five Bible characters that archaeology proves existed (2024)
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