A group of archaeologists in Israel announced the discovery of real treasure dating back to when the so-called Holy Land belonged to the Roman Empire. The precious ring was found while investigating a shipwreck off the ancient port of Caesarea, Israel.

The gold ring has an octagonal shape with a green stone embedded in the thick part. Visible on the stone is the image of a young shepherd boy with a tunic and a sheep on his shoulders, the typical image of the Good Shepherd referencing Jesus, CBS News reported.

Jesus called himself a shepherd. The New Testament says in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” For centuries, the Christian tradition has associated the image of the shepherd with that of Jesus.

Investigators found the ring among a hoard of 3rd century Roman coins, a bronze eagle statuette, several bells to “ward off evil spirits,” ceramics, and a Roman pantomimus statuette with a comical mask, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

“The spectacular items, were part of a cargo of two ships, which exploded off the shores of Caesarea during the Roman and royal period (about 1,700 years ago and about 600 years ago), and were revealed in a submarine survey of the Ancient Authority’s marine archaeology in recent months,” researchers said in a Facebook post .

Investigators also found a red gemstone with a lyre carving, statuettes and metal remains of the ship’s hull in very good condition, “including dozens of large bronze signs, lead pipes belonging to a water pump, and a large iron anchor.”

The findings correspond to two ships that sank in the same area but in different periods, probably wrecked in a heavy storm.

Caesarea, where the discovery was made, was a key center for the expansion of the Roman Empire in the region. At that time Christianity was just in its first stage of expansion, so the image on the ring is truly extraordinary and unique for the time.

“This was a period when Christianity was just in its beginning, but definitely growing and developing, especially in mixed cities like Caesarea,” said Helena Sokolov, an archaeologist in the IAA’s coin department who studied the Good Shepherd ring.

Christianity at the time was a forbidden religion in many regions of the world, however the Roman influence in the area indicates that a person belonging to the empire and wealthy could have easily carried such images.

Sokolov also mentioned that due to the small size of the ring, it can be assumed that it belonged to a female person.

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

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