The oldest written mention of Christ may just have been discovered on a silver leaf with ancient Greek letters and mysterious signs, dating back to around one thousand eight hundred years.
The sensational discovery was made at the archeological site of Viminacium, located 12 km from the modern town of Kostolac in Eastern Serbia, according to Miomir Korac, director of the Archaeological Institute and head of the Viminacium archaeological Project, who revealed the astonishing discovery in an interview with novosti.rs.
The artifac—a letter to God—was found under the headboard of a girl buried in a Jerusalem-style lead sarcophagus, which is a rarity and unequivocally indicates the Middle Eastern origins of the deceased.
“The ancient Greek letters HI, TETA, NI, RO are clearly visible on the sheet, but when the message is viewed from different angles, they can be read as different words. One of them, written in capital letters of the alphabet, can be read as HRIS, Hristos, which means savior,” Korac revealed.
The archaoelogist added that the potentially sensational artifact was actually engraved on a silver sheet that was forged extremely thin, up to a tenth of a millimeter thick.
This sheet upon which the letters are written was bent seven times, forming a square-shaped object with a half-centimeter edge. When it was opened and extended, its dimensions were 5.3 centimeters by 3.5 centimeters. The text was written in the ancient Greek alphabet in nine lines, in a combination of letters and symbols. The name for such an object is a prophylactic lamella, and it contains a magical text, designed to protect the wearer, Korac revealed.
Such lamellae were already discovered in the southern Viminacium necropolis in 2016 and published in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik in 2017.
The lamella was discovered in a rare, well-preserved sarcophagus during recent excavations.
Throughout the decades-long excavations of 14,000 graves in the necropolises of Viminacium, less than 30 such sarcophagi were found. Archaeologists say it was a real surprise that the two sarcophagi remained intact, as grave robbers, from antiquity to the present day, dig through the necropolises of Viminacium in search of valuables.
An analysis of the inscription on the leaflet is in progress. If archaeologists confirm the correct interpretation of the word, this will become the oldest written mention of Christ in the world, engraved on the silver sheet excavated in Viminacium.
Korac notes that the letters are clearly recognizable, and there is no confusion as to what they read.
The archeologists revealed that although exciting, it is way too early to comment or make conclusions. If further studies confirm that the reading of the word HRIS is indeed correct, then the discovery would signify we have found the oldest mention of Christ, anywhere in the world, the archeologists revealed in excitement.
Coins were also found in the sarcophagus containing the “letter to God,” which allows scientists to date the tomb to the end of the second or the beginning of the third century.