We have been looking to see if there is any historical evidence for the existence of any of the early 46+ popes / bishops of Rome (the actual persons/names), and we have found that there seems to be no hard verified historical evidences for the early popes until maybe the time of Constantine. There are quite a few sources that are claimed as evidence as seen in the following list, but the problem is that most of them are church writings and are of uncertain veracity and are not necessarily very reliable. Various orthodox scholars also agree that there is no hard evidence for the earliest popes/bishops, though some say the issue is tricky.
List of alleged historical sources/evidences. (Sorry it is abit rough and not edited properly yet.)
(Please note that the real issue here is not about "Peter" and the rock, but about the existence of the popes. It is not about the existence or primacy of the Roman bishop/pope office in general but about the actual popes persons/names. The point is that if any of the popes/bishops are fake then the whole list will have gap(s) in it breaking the claimed succesion from "Peter", and the whole list is then also suspect. Moreover, the papal (not the biblical) "Peter" himself is also seen to be fake anyway/too.)
- claudius expelled jews/chrestians - Peter in Matthew 16 & 1 Clement. Via Appia archaeological evidence [but may be Paul's house not Peter's house]. Nero persecution/martyrs 67 ad. -Vespasian coin 7 hills 70 ad. - Linus in NT [but doesn't mention him as pope/bishop/succesor] c70. - Clement issued '1 Clement' c 96 mentioning Peter [but Historians say the letter is spurious]. ("possible independent sources at the time"?) - John in 'Revelation' mentions fake apostles, Nicolatines 1, synagogue of Satan 1, Balaam, Nicolatines 2, Jezebel, depths of Satan, defiled garments, synagogue of Satan 2, Laodiceans. - Ignatius letter to Romans c110 mentions Peter & Paul. ignatius: peter, rome, paul. - catacombs of Callixtus (beg 3rd C) mid 2nd cent. - "council of Rome 155" - Eusebius mentions Dionysius letter 178 mentioning Peter & Paul at Rome, pope Soter. dionysius contemp Soter, dionysius of C mentions Clement. - st Hegesippus discussed contemporary Eleuterus c180. [Lucius 1st christian king Britain?] - "council of Rome193" - irenaeus c180/195/bef200 (contemp Victor 1) mentions Peter & Paul at Rome, Linus. irenaeus: peter, rome, paul. irenaeus 180 mention Linus, cletus, telesphorus, clem. irenaeus letter to Victor. Irenaeus says Valentius came to Rome in Hyginus' tim. Irenaeus mentions Anicetus. - Caius Against Proclus 198. -Acts of Peter c 200. - tertullian 199/bef200 mentions roman church, peter, clement & callistus. tertullian mentions [Callixtus or Agrippinus of Carthage] as pm, bishops, c200. Tertullian mentions [Jesus], Peter, keys, church c211/220. tertullian: peter, rome, paul. tertullian: clement, peter. - Clement mentions [Jesus], Peter, c200ad. Clement mentions James, [God], Jesus, [Peter], church, 221. [Interestingly he calls "James" "my lord".] clement: perpetua, peter, rome, paul. - enemies writings about callistus 1 c222. acts of Callistus are spurious. Julius Africanus gives date of Callistus 1, c 223. - "Pontian earliest exact date" 230; "Pontian exiled by Maximinus". - Hippolytus c 235: Mary Magd. - Origen mentions [Jesus], Peter, keys, 248. origen: peter, rome, paul. origen before 250. origen 254. - Cyprian mentions [Jesus], Peter, chair/cathedra, church, 251. -Peter of Alexandria c 311 mentions Peter, Rome. -Lactanius c 318 mentions Pete, rome. - 1st official church history written by Eusebius c325. Eusebius wrote histories [not sure he is same as the pope of same c 310 date(s) though? "Pope Eusebius banished/exiled by Maxentius"?] eusebius: linus, clement, evaristus, telesphorus. - constantine began the Orthodox Church collecion of writings ca320 <- silvester 1 (314-335) built basilica of St Peter? silvester Nicea council? Rome primacy at Nicea 325?> - Mark compile stories of martyrs c 330s. (Believed he founded 2 churches.) - Cyril mentions [Jesus], Peter, keys, Paul, Simon Magus, Claudius, Aeneas, 350. - Ephraim mentions [Jesus, Peter], keys, church 351. - Liberius exiled by Constantius c355. Liberius signed onto a heretical creed? - Ambrose mentions Peter, rock, church, 379. - Theodosius edict 380: Damasus Pontif, Peter Bp Alex. - Damasus patron of jerome, commisioned vulgate. Damasus 1 mentions holy Roman Church, [Jesus], Peter, rock, keys, 382. - Siricius letters/decretal/decree c 390. - Jerome mentions Jovinian, Peter, church, chair, Claudius, John, Clement, 393/396. Jerome: linus, clement. - catacombs of Marcellinus & Peter 4th cent. - Pope Innocent 1 mentions God, apostolic see [Rome], [Peter], 408. Innocent organise Church/primacy c410. Innocent 1 Visigoths. - Augustine mentions Peter, church, keys, Judas, 411/415/416. - Augustine of Hippo 422: [P&P]. augustine: cletus. - Council of Ephesus mentions presbyter Philip legate of [Pope Celestine 1], Jesus, Peter head, keys, Catholic church, apostolic see, 431. - Leo 1 wrote the Tome c 450. (Council Chalcedon. Supposedly met Attila the Hun 440.) Pope Leo 1 mentions Jesus, (See of) Peter, rock, church, bishops, divine mystery, 445. Leo1assumedtitlePM,c450. - Gelasius letters/essays 490s. - Biography of Hormisdas - John 1 confined by Theodoric, d 526. - Dionysius 532: christian era.