Early Christian art and architecture

Early Christian art and architecture or Paleochristian art is the art produced by Christians or under Christian patronage from the earliest period of Christianity to, depending on the definition used, sometime between 260 and 525. In practice, identifiably Christian art only survives from the 2nd century onwards.[1] After 550 at the latest, Christian art is classified as Byzantine, or of some other regional type.[1][2]

It is hard to know when distinctly Christian art began. Prior to 100, Christians may have been constrained by their position as a persecuted group from producing durable works of art. Since Christianity was largely a religion of the lower classes in this period, the lack of surviving art may reflect a lack of funds for patronage, and simply small numbers of followers. The Old Testament restrictions against the production of graven (an idol or fetish carved in wood or stone) images (see also Idolatry and Christianity) may also have constrained Christians from producing art. Christians may have made or purchased art with pagan iconography, but given it Christian meanings, as they later did. If this happened, "Christian" art would not be immediately recognizable as such.

Early Christianity used the same artistic media as the surrounding pagan culture. These media included fresco, mosaics, sculpture, and manuscript illumination. Early Christian art not only used Roman forms, it also used Roman styles. Late classical style included a proportional portrayal of the human body and impressionistic presentation of space. Late classical style is seen in early Christian frescos, such as those in the Catacombs of Rome, which include most examples of the earliest Christian art.[3][4][5]

Early Christian art and architecture adapted Roman artistic motifs and gave new meanings to what had been pagan symbols. Among the motifs adopted were the peacock, grapevines, and the "Good Shepherd". Early Christians also developed their own iconography, for example, such symbols as the fish (ikhthus), were not borrowed from pagan iconography.

Early Christian art is generally divided into two periods by scholars: before and after either the Edict of Milan of 313, bringing the so-called Triumph of the Church under Constantine, or the First Council of Nicea in 325. The earlier period being called the Pre-Constantinian or Ante-Nicene Period and after being the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils.[6] The end of the period of early Christian art, which is typically defined by art historians as being in the 5th–7th centuries, is thus a good deal later than the end of the period of early Christianity as typically defined by theologians and church historians, which is more often considered to end under Constantine, around 313–325.

Healing of a bleeding women Marcellinus-Peter-Catacomb
Jesus healing the bleeding woman, Roman catacombs, 300–350


During the persecution of Christians under the Roman Empire, Christian art was necessarily and deliberately furtive and ambiguous, using imagery that was shared with pagan culture but had a special meaning for Christians. The earliest surviving Christian art comes from the late 2nd to early 4th centuries on the walls of Christian tombs in the catacombs of Rome. From literary evidence, there may well have been panel icons which, like almost all classical painting, have disappeared. Initially Jesus was represented indirectly by pictogram symbols such as the Ichthys (fish), peacock, Lamb of God, or an anchor (the Labarum or Chi-Rho was a later development). Later personified symbols were used, including Jonah, whose three days in the belly of the whale pre-figured the interval between the death and resurrection of Jesus, Daniel in the lion's den, or Orpheus' charming the animals. The image of "The Good Shepherd", a beardless youth in pastoral scenes collecting sheep, was the most common of these images, and was probably not understood as a portrait of the historical Jesus.[7] These images bear some resemblance to depictions of kouros figures in Greco-Roman art. The "almost total absence from Christian monuments of the period of persecutions of the plain, unadorned cross" except in the disguised form of the anchor,[8] is notable. The Cross, symbolizing Jesus' crucifixion on a cross, was not represented explicitly for several centuries, possibly because crucifixion was a punishment meted out to common criminals, but also because literary sources noted that it was a symbol recognised as specifically Christian, as the sign of the cross was made by Christians from very early on.

The popular conception that the Christian catacombs were "secret" or had to hide their affiliation is probably wrong; catacombs were large-scale commercial enterprises, usually sited just off major roads to the city, whose existence was well known. The inexplicit symbolic nature of many early Christian visual motifs may have had a function of discretion in other contexts, but on tombs they probably reflect a lack of any other repertoire of Christian iconography.[9]

The dove is a symbol of peace and purity. It can be found with a halo or celestial light. In one of the earliest known Trinitarian images, "the Throne of God as a Trinitarian image" (a marble relief carved c. 400 CE in the collection of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), the dove represents the Spirit. It is flying above an empty throne representing God, in the throne are a chlamys (cloak) and diadem representing the Son. The Chi-Rho monogram, XP, apparently first used by Constantine I, consists of the first two characters of the name 'Christos' in Greek.

Christian art before 313

Noah catacombe
Noah praying in the Ark, from a Roman catacomb

A general assumption that early Christianity was generally aniconic, opposed to religious imagery in both theory and practice until about 200, has been challenged by Paul Corby Finney's analysis of early Christian writing and material remains (1994). This distinguishes three different sources of attitudes affecting early Christians on the issue: "first that humans could have a direct vision of God; second that they could not; and, third, that although humans could see God they were best advised not to look, and were strictly forbidden to represent what they had seen". These derived respectively from Greek and Near Eastern pagan religions, from Ancient Greek philosophy, and from the Jewish tradition and the Old Testament. Of the three, Finney concludes that "overall, Israel's aversion to sacred images influenced early Christianity considerably less than the Greek philosophical tradition of invisible deity apophatically defined", so placing less emphasis on the Jewish background of most of the first Christians than most traditional accounts.[10] Finney suggests that "the reasons for the non-appearance of Christian art before 200 have nothing to do with principled aversion to art, with other-worldliness, or with anti-materialism. The truth is simple and mundane: Christians lacked land and capital. Art requires both. As soon as they began to acquire land and capital, Christians began to experiment with their own distinctive forms of art".[11]

In the Dura-Europos church, of about 230–256, which is in the best condition of the surviving very early churches, there are frescos of biblical scenes including a figure of Jesus, as well as Christ as the Good Shepherd. The building was a normal house apparently converted to use as a church.[12][13] The earliest Christian paintings in the Catacombs of Rome are from a few decades before, and these represent the largest body of examples of Christian art from the pre-Constantinian period, with hundreds of examples decorating tombs or family tomb-chambers. Many are simple symbols, but there are numerous figure paintings either showing orants or female praying figures, usually representing the deceased person, or figures or shorthand scenes from the bible or Christian history.

The style of the catacomb paintings, and the entirety of many decorative elements, are effectively identical to those of the catacombs of other religious groups, whether conventional pagans following Ancient Roman religion, or Jews or followers of the Roman mystery religions. The quality of the painting is low compared to the large houses of the rich, which provide the other main corpus of painting surviving from the period, but the shorthand depiction of figures can have an expressive charm.[14][15][16] A similar situation applies at Dura-Europos, where the decoration of the church is comparable in style and quality to that of the (larger and more lavishly painted) Dura-Europos synagogue and the Temple of Bel. At least in such smaller places, it seems that the available artists were used by all religious groups. It may also have been the case that the painted chambers in the catacombs were decorated in similar style to the best rooms of the homes of the better-off families buried in them, with Christian scenes and symbols replacing those from mythology, literature, paganism and eroticism, although we lack the evidence to confirm this.[17][18][19] We do have the same scenes on small pieces in media such as pottery or glass,[20] though less often from this pre-Constantinian period.

There was a preference for what are sometimes called "abbreviated" representations, small groups of say one to four figures forming a single motif which could be easily recognised as representing a particular incident. These vignettes fitted the Roman style of room decoration, set in compartments in a scheme with a geometrical structure (see gallery below).[21] Biblical scenes of figures rescued from mortal danger were very popular; these represented both the Resurrection of Jesus, through typology, and the salvation of the soul of the deceased. Jonah and the whale,[22][23] the Sacrifice of Isaac, Noah praying in the Ark (represented as an orant in a large box, perhaps with a dove carrying a branch), Moses striking the rock, Daniel in the lion's den and the Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace ([Daniel 3:10–30]) were all favourites, that could be easily depicted.[24][25][21][26][27]

Early Christian sarcophagi were a much more expensive option, made of marble and often heavily decorated with scenes in very high relief, worked with drills. Free-standing statues that are unmistakably Christian are very rare, and never very large, as more common subjects such as the Good Shepherd were symbols appealing to several religious and philosophical groups, including Christians, and without context no affiliation can be given to them. Typically sculptures, where they appear, are of rather high quality. One exceptional group that seems clearly Christian is known as the Cleveland Statuettes of Jonah and the Whale,[28][21] and consists of a group of small statuettes of about 270, including two busts of a young and fashionably dressed couple, from an unknown find-spot, possibly in modern Turkey. The other figures tell the story of Jonah in four pieces, with a Good Shepherd; how they were displayed remains mysterious.[29]

The depiction of Jesus was well-developed by the end of the pre-Constantinian period. He was typically shown in narrative scenes, with a preference for New Testament miracles, and few of scenes from his Passion. A variety of different types of appearance were used, including the thin long-faced figure with long centrally-parted hair that was later to become the norm. But in the earliest images as many show a stocky and short-haired beardless figure in a short tunic, who can only be identified by his context. In many images of miracles Jesus carries a stick or wand, which he points at the subject of the miracle rather like a modern stage magician (though the wand is a good deal larger).

Saints are fairly often seen, with Peter and Paul, both martyred in Rome, by some way the most common in the catacombs there. Both already have their distinctive appearances, retained throughout the history of Christian art. Other saints may not be identifiable unless labelled with an inscription. In the same way some images may represent either the Last Supper or a contemporary agape feast.

Moses striking the rock in the desert

Moses striking the rock in the desert, a prototype of baptism[31]

XV14 - Roma, Museo civiltà romana - Adorazione dei Magi - sec III dC - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto 12-Apr-2008

3rd-century cover for catacomb burial, engraved with the Adoration of the Magi (cast shown)

Wilpert 060

Catacomb chamber with (from top): Orants, Jonah and the Whale, Moses striking the rock (left), Noah praying in the ark, Adoration of the Magi. 200–250

Christian architecture after 313

Santa Sabina
Santa Sabina, Rome, interior (5th century).
Main article: Christianising the basilica in Basilica

In the 4th century, the rapidly growing Christian population, now supported by the state, needed to build larger and grander public buildings for worship than the mostly discreet meeting places they had been using, which were typically in or among domestic buildings. Pagan temples remained in use for their original purposes for some time and, at least in Rome, even when deserted were shunned by Christians until the 6th or 7th centuries, when some were converted to churches.[32] Elsewhere this happened sooner. Architectural formulas for temples were unsuitable, not simply for their pagan associations, but because pagan cult and sacrifices occurred outdoors under the open sky in the sight of the gods, with the temple, housing the cult figures and the treasury, as a windowless backdrop.

The usable model at hand, when Emperor Constantine I wanted to memorialize his imperial piety, was the familiar conventional architecture of the basilica. There were several variations of the basic plan of the secular basilica, always some kind of rectangular hall, but the one usually followed for churches had a center nave with one aisle at each side, and an apse at one end opposite to the main door at the other. In, and often also in front of, the apse was a raised platform, where the altar was placed and the clergy officiated. In secular buildings this plan was more typically used for the smaller audience halls of the emperors, governors, and the very rich than for the great public basilicas functioning as law courts and other public purposes.[33] This was the normal pattern used for Roman churches, and generally in the Western Empire, but the Eastern Empire, and Roman Africa, were more adventurous, and their models were sometimes copied in the West, for example in Milan. All variations allowed natural light from windows high in the walls, a departure from the windowless sanctuaries of the temples of most previous religions, and this has remained a consistent feature of Christian church architecture. Formulas giving churches with a large central area were to become preferred in Byzantine architecture, which developed styles of basilica with a dome early on.[34]

A particular and short-lived type of building, using the same basilican form, was the funerary hall, which was not a normal church, though the surviving examples long ago became regular churches, and they always offered funeral and memorial services, but a building erected in the Constantinian period as an indoor cemetery on a site connected with early Christian martyrs, such as a catacomb. The six examples built by Constantine outside the walls of Rome are: Old Saint Peter's Basilica, the older basilica dedicated to Saint Agnes of which Santa Costanza is now the only remaining element, San Sebastiano fuori le mura, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Santi Marcellino e Pietro al Laterano, and one in the modern park of Villa Gordiani.[35]

A martyrium was a building erected on a spot with particular significance, often over the burial of a martyr. No particular architectural form was associated with the type, and they were often small. Many became churches, or chapels in larger churches erected adjoining them. With baptistries and mausolea, their often smaller size and different function made martyria suitable for architectural experimentation.[36]

Among the key buildings, not all surviving in their original form, are:

Basilica of Hagia Sofia, Bulgaria

Exterior of the Basilica St. Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria, 4th cent. CE


Interior of the Basilica St. Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria


Exterior of the Rotunda St. George, Sofia, Bulgaria, 3rd-4th cent. CE

Church St Georg Rotunda IMG 0547

Original Roman and Byzantine frescoes of the Rotunda St. George in Sofia, Bulgaria

Christian art after 313

1057 - Roma, Museo d. civiltà Romana - Calco sarcofago Giunio Basso - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 12-Apr-2008
Detail - cast of the central sections of the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, with Traditio Legis and Jesus entering Jerusalem.

With the final legalization of Christianity, the existing styles of Christian art continued to develop, and take on a more monumental and iconic character. Before long very large Christian churches began to be constructed, and the majority of the rich elite adapted Christianity, and public and elite Christian art became grander to suit the new spaces and clients.

Although borrowings of motifs such as the Virgin and Child from pagan religious art had been pointed out as far back as the Protestant Reformation, when John Calvin and his followers gleefully used them as a stick with which to beat all Christian art, the belief of André Grabar, Andreas Alföldi, Ernst Kantorowicz and other early 20th-century art historians that Roman Imperial imagery was a much more significant influence "has become universally accepted". A book by Thomas F. Mathews in 1994 attempted to overturn this thesis, very largely denying influence from Imperial iconography in favour of a range of other secular and religious influence, but was roughly handled by academic reviewers.[38]

More complex and expensive works are seen, as the wealthy gradually converted, and more theological complexity appears, as Christianity became subject to acrimonious doctrinal disputes. At the same time a very different type of art is found in the new public churches that were now being constructed. Somewhat by accident, the best group of survivals of these is from Rome where, together with Constantinople and Jesusalem, they were presumably at their most magnificent. Mosaic now becomes important; fortunately this survives far better than fresco, although it is vulnerable to well-meaning restoration and repair. It seems to have been an innovation of early Christian churches to put mosaics on the wall and use them for sacred subjects; previously the technique had essentially been used for floors and walls in gardens. By the end of the period the style of gold background had developed that continued to characterize Byzantine images, and many Early Medieval Western ones.

With more space, narrative images containing many people develop in churches, and also begin to be seen in later catacomb paintings. Continuous rows of biblical scenes appear (rather high up) along the side walls of churches. The best-preserved 5th-century examples are the set of Old Testament scenes along the nave walls of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. These can be compared to the paintings of Dura-Europos, and probably also derive from a lost tradition of both Jewish and Christian illustrated manuscripts, as well as more general Roman precedents.[39][40] The large apses contain images in an iconic style, which gradually developed to centre on a large figure, or later just the bust, of Christ, or later of the Virgin Mary. The earliest apses show a range of compositions that are new symbolic images of the Christian life and the Church.

No panel paintings, or "icons" from before the 6th century have survived in anything like an original condition, but they were clearly produced, and becoming more important throughout this period.

Sculpture, all much smaller than lifesize, has survived in better quantities. The most famous of a considerable number of surviving early Christian sarcophagi are perhaps the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus and Dogmatic sarcophagus of the 4th century. A number of ivory carvings have survived, including the complex late-5th-century Brescia Casket, probably a product of Saint Ambrose's episcopate in Milan, then the seat of the Imperial court, and the 6th-century Throne of Maximian from the Byzantine Italian capital of Ravenna.

Gold glass Christian plate, 4th century
Gold glass from the catacombs, with Saint Peter, Virgin Mary in orant pose, Saint Paul, 4th century

Gold glass

Gold sandwich glass or gold glass was a technique for fixing a layer of gold leaf with a design between two fused layers of glass, developed in Hellenistic glass and revived in the 3rd century. There are a very fewer larger designs, but the great majority of the around 500 survivals are roundels that are the cut-off bottoms of wine cups or glasses used to mark and decorate graves in the Catacombs of Rome by pressing them into the mortar. The great majority are 4th century, extending into the 5th century. Most are Christian, but many pagan and a few Jewish, and had probably originally been given as gifts on marriage, or festive occasions such as New Year. Their iconography has been much studied, although artistically they are relatively unsophisticated.[41] Their subjects are similar to the catacomb paintings, but with a difference balance including more portraiture of the deceased (usually, it is presumed). The progression to an increased number of images of saints can be seen in them.[42] The same technique began to be used for gold tesserae for mosaics in the mid-1st century in Rome, and by the 5th century these had become the standard background for religious mosaics.

See also


  1. ^ a b Jensen 2000, p. 15–16.
  2. ^ van der Meer, F., 27 uses "roughly from 200 to 600".
  3. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 10–14.
  4. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 30-32.
  5. ^ Jensen 2000, p. 12-15.
  6. ^ Jensen 2000, p. 16.
  7. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 21-23.
  8. ^ Marucchi, Orazio. "Archæology of the Cross and Crucifix." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 7 Sept. 2018 online
  9. ^ Jensen 2000, p. 22.
  10. ^ Finney, viii–xii, viii and xi quoted
  11. ^ Finney, 108
  12. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 360.
  13. ^ Graydon F. Snyder, Ante pacem: archaeological evidence of church life before Constantine, p. 134, Mercer University Press, 2003, google books
  14. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 29-30.
  15. ^ Jensen 2000, p. 24.
  16. ^ Beckwith 1979, p. 23–24.
  17. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 10–11.
  18. ^ Jensen 2000, p. 10-15.
  19. ^ Balch, 183, 193
  20. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 377.
  21. ^ a b c Weitzmann 1979, p. 396.
  22. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 365.
  23. ^ Balch, 41 and chapter 6
  24. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 15-18.
  25. ^ Jensen 2000, p. Chapte 3.
  26. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 360-407.
  27. ^ Beckwith 1979, p. 21-24.
  28. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 362-367.
  29. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. 410.
  30. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. no. 383.
  31. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. 424-425.
  32. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 39.
  33. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 40.
  34. ^ Syndicus 1962, chapter II, covers the whole story of the Christianization of the basilica..
  35. ^ Webb, Matilda. The churches and catacombs of early Christian Rome: a comprehensive guide, p. 251, 2001, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 1-902210-58-1, ISBN 978-1-902210-58-2, google books
  36. ^ Syndicus 1962, chapter III.
  37. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 69-70.
  38. ^ The book was The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art by Thomas F. Mathews. Review by: W. Eugene Kleinbauer (quoted, from p. 937), Speculum, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 937-941, Medieval Academy of America, JSTOR; JSTOR has other reviews, all with criticisms along similar lines: Peter Brown, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 77, No. 3 (Sep., 1995), pp. 499–502; RW. Eugene Kleinbauer, Speculum, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Oct., 1995), pp. 937–941 , Liz James, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 136, No. 1096 (Jul., 1994), pp. 458–459;Annabel Wharton, The American Historical Review, Vol. 100, No. 5 (Dec., 1995), pp. 1518–1519 .
  39. ^ Syndicus 1962, p. 52-54.
  40. ^ Weitzmann 1979, p. 366-369.
  41. ^ Beckwith 1979, p. 25-26.
  42. ^ Grig, throughout


External links


Alaşehir (Turkish pronunciation: [aˈɫaʃehiɾ]), in Antiquity and the Middle Ages known as Philadelphia (Greek: Φιλαδέλφεια, i.e., "the city of him who loves his brother"), is a town and district of Manisa Province in the Aegean region of Turkey. It is situated in the valley of the Kuzuçay (Cogamus in antiquity), at the foot of the Bozdağ Mountain (Mount Tmolus in antiquity). The town is connected to İzmir by a 105 km (65 mi) railway. The longtime mayor is Gökhan Karaçoban.

It stands on elevated ground commanding the extensive and fertile plain of the Gediz River (Hermus in antiquity), presenting an imposing appearance when seen from a distance. It has about 45 mosques. There are small industries and a fair trade. From one of the mineral springs comes a heavily charged water popular around Turkey.Within Turkey, the city's name is synonymous with the dried Sultana raisins, although cultivation for the fresh fruit market, less labour-intensive than the dried fruit, has gained prominence in recent decades. As Philadelphia, Alaşehir was a highly important center in the Early Christian and Byzantine periods. It remained a strong center of Orthodox Christianity until the early 20th century, and remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.

Barad, Syria

Barad (Arabic: براد‎) is a mountainous village in northern Syria, administratively part of the Aleppo Governorate, located northwest of Aleppo. Nearby localities include Burj Abdullah to the northwest, Kimar to the north, Aqiba to the northeast and Nubl to the east.

Bobby Milburn

Robert Leslie Pollington "Bobby" Milburn FSA (28 July 1907 – 14 February 2000) was an Anglican priest in the 20th century.Milburn was educated at Oundle School and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and ordained in 1935. Between then and 1957 he was a fellow, tutor and chaplain at Worcester College, Oxford. He was then appointed as the Dean of Worcester Cathedral where he served until 1968. During this time he was Librarian and Master of the Fabric and was highly knowledgeable about both. He had the crypt, originally built by St Wulstan, bishop at the time of the Norman invasion, cleaned, cleared and painted. He worked hard to maintain the fabric in good condition. He founded the Worcester Civic Society and was often seen around the city where he always preferred to walk or bicycle to travelling by car. Many local people still remember him with affection and recall that he usually wore the regular dean's uniform of breeches, gaiters and frock coat, which he always said was extremely comfortable. He was then Master of the Temple Church until his retirement in 1980, when he retired to Bromyard, Herefordshire. His wife was increasingly disabled and he looked after her with exemplary devotion, eventually moving to the Beauchamp Community in Malvern where she would be nearer the facilities she required.

Milburn was a classical scholar, but in the tradition of the Edwardian public school, applied the methods of learning to a wide range of subjects. He read and wrote excellent French and good German and knew a great deal about the natural world, particularly birds. He was much in demand as a witty after-dinner speaker, and was a natural story-teller. The late Canon Iaian Mackenzie, a canon of Worcester Cathedral and a friend of Milburn, commented when he died: "We shall not see his like again.", but also pointed out that he looked forward to continuing their discussion about Clement of Alexandria in the next life and that Clement would be there to arbitrate.

Carolingian architecture

Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian dynasty dominated west European politics. It was a conscious attempt to emulate Roman architecture and to that end it borrowed heavily from Early Christian and Byzantine architecture, though there are nonetheless innovations of its own, resulting in a unique character.

The gatehouse of the monastery at Lorsch, built around 800, exemplifies classical inspiration for Carolingian architecture, built as a triple-arched hall dominating the gateway, with the arched facade interspersed with attached classical columns and pilasters above.

The Palatine Chapel in Aachen constructed between 792–805 was inspired by the octagonal Justinian church of San Vitale in Ravenna, built in the 6th century, but at Aachen there is a tall monumental western entrance complex, as a whole called a westwork—a Carolingian innovation.

Carolingian churches generally are basilican, like the Early Christian churches of Rome, and commonly incorporated westworks, which is arguably the precedent for the western facades of later medieval cathedrals. An original westwork survives today at the Abbey of Corvey, built in 885.

Codex Marchalianus

Codex Marchalianus designated by siglum Q is a 6th-century Greek manuscript copy of the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh or Old Testament) known as the Septuagint. The text was written on vellum in uncial letters. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 6th century.Its name was derived from a former owner, René Marchal.

Cotton Genesis

The Cotton Genesis (London, British Library, MS Cotton Otho B VI) is a 4th- or 5th-century Greek Illuminated manuscript copy of the Book of Genesis. It was a luxury manuscript with many miniatures. It is one of the oldest illustrated biblical codices to survive to the modern period. Most of the manuscript was destroyed in the Cotton library fire in 1731, leaving only eighteen charred, shrunken scraps of vellum. From the remnants, the manuscript appears to have been more than 440 pages with approximately 340-360 illustrations that were framed and inserted into the text column. Many miniatures were also copied in the 17th century and are now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris (Ms. fr. 9530).

Doubting Thomas

A doubting Thomas is a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience—a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

In art, the episode (formally called the Incredulity of Thomas) has been frequently depicted since at least the 5th century, with its depiction reflecting a range of theological interpretations.

Eastern Orthodox church architecture

Eastern Orthodox church architecture constitutes a distinct, recognizable family of styles among church architectures. These styles share a cluster of fundamental similarities, having been influenced by the common legacy of Byzantine architecture from the Eastern Roman Empire. Some of the styles have become associated with the particular traditions of one specific autocephalous Orthodox patriarchate, whereas others are more widely used within the Eastern Orthodox Church.

These architectural styles have held substantial influence over cultures outside Eastern Orthodoxy; particularly in the architecture of Islamic mosques, but also to some degree in Western churches.


Ephesus (; Ancient Greek: Ἔφεσος Ephesos; Turkish: Efes; may ultimately derive from Hittite Apasa) was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, three kilometres southwest of present-day Selçuk in İzmir Province, Turkey. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

The city was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.Ephesos was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several

5th-century Christian Councils (see Council of Ephesus).

The city was destroyed by the Goths in 263, and although rebuilt, the city's importance as a commercial centre declined as the harbour was slowly silted up by the Küçükmenderes River. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake in AD 614.

The ruins of Ephesus are a favourite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport or from the cruise ship port of Kuşadası, some 30 km to the South.

Euphrasian Basilica

The Euphrasian Basilica (Croatian: Eufrazijeva bazilika, Italian: Basilica Eufrasiana) or the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary is a Roman Catholic basilica in Poreč, Croatia. The episcopal complex, including, apart the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region.

The Euphrasian basilica has for the most part retained its original shape, but accidents, fires and earthquakes have altered a few details. Since it is the third church to be built on the same site, it conceals previous buildings, for example the great floor mosaic of the previous basilica from the 5th century. Because of its exceptional value, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. The Basilica is also the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Poreč-Pula.

Holy Spirit in Christian art

The Holy Spirit has been represented in Christian art both in the Eastern and Western Churches using a variety of depictions.The depictions have ranged from nearly identical figures that represent the three persons of the Holy Trinity from a dove to a flame.The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove, based on the account of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus at his baptism. In many paintings of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit is shown in the form of a dove, coming down towards Mary on beams of light, as the Archangel Gabriel announces Christ's coming to Mary.

A dove may also be seen at the ear of Saint Gregory the Great─as recorded by his secretary or other church father authors, dictating their works to them.

The dove also parallels the one that brought the olive branch to Noah after the deluge, as a symbol of peace.The book of Acts describes the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost in the form of a wind and tongues of fire resting over the apostles' heads. Based on the imagery in that account, the Holy Spirit is sometimes symbolized by a flame.There are also depictions of the Holy Spirit in the book of Genesis. In The Vatican Museum in Rome is a carved stone sarcophagus depicting the Holy Trinity as three bearded men during the creation of Eve. The majority of early Christian art depicts The Holy Spirit in an anthropomorphic form as a human with two other Identical human figures representing God the Father and Jesus Christ. They either sit or they stand grouped closely together. This is used to portray the unity of The Godhead.The Holy Spirit is represented in various artistic mediums such as stained glass windows and calligraphy.

Monolithic architecture

Monolithic architecture describes buildings which are carved, cast or excavated from a single piece of material, historically from rock. The most basic form of monolithic architecture is a rock-cut building, such as the monolithic churches of Ethiopia built by the Zagwe dynasty, or the Pancha Rathas in India. These are cut out of solid rock, to which they remain attached at the base. In most cases this is evident from the remaining surrounding rock, but sometimes a building is cut from an outcrop, as in the Shore Temple in southern India, and only inspection at close quarters reveals that the building is monolithic.

The terms monolith and monolithic column are normally used for objects made from a single large piece of rock which is detached from the ground. They may have been moved a considerable distance, as with several ancient Egyptian obelisks, which have been moved across the world. Buildings with a structural material that is poured into place, most commonly concrete, can also be described as monolithic. Extreme examples are monolithic domes, where the material is sprayed inside of a form to produce the solid structure.

An ancient example of a monolithic dome is that of the Mausoleum of Theodoric in Ravenna, Italy, whose roof is made from a single stone.

Outline of painting history

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the history of painting:

History of painting – painting is the production of paintings, that is, the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface (support base, such as paper, canvas, or a wall); the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity.

Rossano Gospels

The Rossano Gospels, designated by 042 or Σ (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), ε 18 (Soden), at the cathedral of Rossano in Italy, is a 6th-century illuminated manuscript Gospel Book written following the reconquest of the Italian peninsula by the Byzantine Empire. Also known as Codex purpureus Rossanensis due to the reddish-purple (purpureus in Latin) appearance of its pages, the codex is one of the oldest surviving illuminated manuscripts of the New Testament. The manuscript is famous for its prefatory cycle of miniatures of subjects from the Life of Christ, arranged in two tiers on the page, sometimes with small Old Testament prophet portraits below, prefiguring and pointing up to events described in the New Testament scene above.

Santa Costanza

Santa Costanza is a 4th-century church in Rome, Italy, on the Via Nomentana, which runs north-east out of the city. It is a round building with well preserved original layout and mosaics. It has been built adjacent to a horseshoe-shaped church, now in ruins, which has been identified as the initial 4th-century cemeterial basilica of Saint Agnes. (Note that the much later Church of St Agnes, still standing nearby, is distinct from the older ruined one.) Santa Costanza and the old Saint Agnes were both constructed over the earlier catacombs in which Saint Agnes is believed to be buried.

According to the traditional view, Santa Costanza was built under Constantine I as a mausoleum for his daughter Constantina, later also known as Constantia or Costanza, who died in AD 354. However, more recent excavations seem to date the existing church to the time of Emperor Julian (r. 361-363), who would have built it as a funerary structure for his wife, Helena, who died in AD 360, and was herself also a daughter of Emperor Constantine. If that should be the case, then the building was mainly dedicated to Helena and only secondarily to her sister Constantina, whose sarcophagus was brought into the new building from an earlier structure.The mausoleum is of circular form with an ambulatory surrounding a central dome. The fabric of Santa Costanza survives in essentially its original form. Despite the loss of the coloured stone veneers of the walls, some damage to the mosaics and incorrect restoration, the building stands in excellent condition as a prime example of Early Christian art and architecture. The vaults of the apses and ambulatory display well preserved examples of Late Roman mosaics. A key component which is missing from the decorative scheme is the mosaic of the central dome. In the sixteenth-century, watercolours were made of this central dome so the pictorial scheme can be hypothetically reconstructed. The large porphyry sarcophagus of either Constantina or her sister Helena has survived intact, and is now in the Vatican Museum - an object of great significance to the study of the art of Late Antiquity.

Sator Square

The Sator Square (or Rotas Square) is a word square containing a five-word Latin palindrome:






In particular, this is a square 2D palindrome, which is when a square text admits four symmetries: identity, two diagonal reflections, and 180 degree rotation. As can be seen, the text may be read top-to-bottom, bottom-to-top, left-to-right, or right-to-left; and it may be rotated 180 degrees and still be read in all those ways.

The Sator Square is the earliest dateable 2D palindrome. It was found in the ruins of Pompeii, at Herculaneum, a city buried in the ash of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. It consists of a sentence written in Latin: "Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas." Its translation has been the subject of speculation with no clear consensus; see below for details.

Other 2D Palindrome examples may be found carved on stone tablets or pressed into clay before being fired.

Throne of Maximian

The Throne of Maximian (or Maximianus) is a throne that was made for Archbishop Maximianus of Ravenna and is now on display at the Archiepiscopal Museum, Ravenna. It is generally agreed that the throne was carved in the Greek East of the Byzantine Empire and shipped to Ravenna, but there has long been scholarly debate over whether it was made in Constantinople or Alexandria.The style of the throne is a mixture of Early Christian art and that of the First Golden Age of Byzantine art. It is made of carved ivory panels, with frames of winding vines and grapevines, on a wooden frame. The throne itself is large with a high semi-circular back and may have held a jewelled cross or Gospel book for some of the time. The ivory carvings are done in relief and the panels depict important biblical figures. The back of the throne shows scenes of the Life of Christ, the sides include scenes of the Story of Joseph from the Book of Genesis, and on the front of the throne are the Four evangelists around John the Baptist, who is holding a medallion with the Lamb of God and Maximian’s name above him.

Via Latina

The Via Latina (Latin for "Latin Road") was a Roman road of Italy, running southeast from Rome for about 200 kilometers.

Vienna Genesis

The Vienna Genesis (Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. theol. gr. 31), designated by siglum L (Ralphs), is an illuminated manuscript, probably produced in Syria in the first half of the 6th Century. It is the oldest well-preserved, surviving, illustrated biblical codex.

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