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transition to christianity Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century AD

transition to christianity Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century ad

Edited by Anastasia Lazaridou

Published by the alexander s. onassis public benefit In collaboration with the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

foundation (usa)

Copyright © 2011 Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), New York, N.Y. 10022 © 2011 Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism This catalogue is issued in conjunction with the exhibition Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century ad held at the Onassis Cultural Center, New York City, December 7, 2011–May 14, 2012



Curators Eugenia Chalkia Anastasia Lazaridou

Editor Anastasia Lazaridou

Chief Curatorial Consultant Slobodan C´urcˇic´ Advisory Committee, Princeton University Peter Brown, Professor of History, Emeritus Slobodan C´urcˇic´, Professor of Art and Archaeology, Emeritus Dimitri Gondicas, Director, Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies

Editor in Chief Jasmin Moysidou Text Editor Barbara Burn Bibliography Editor Jasmin Moysidou Translation from Greek Valerie Nunn

Research Assistants, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens Sophia Gerogiorgi Anna Pianalto Yiannis Theocharis Antonis Tsakalos Exhibition Design Advisor, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens Lena Katsanika

Translation from Italian (Essay by Fabrizio Bisconti) Francesca Toffolo Designer Sophia Geronimus Image Editing Yannis Stavrinos

General Assistant, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens Niki Papaspirou Color Separation by Petros Kalamatianos Printed by Register-Petros Kalamatianos Research Associate and Educational Materials Katherine Marsengill Exhibition Designer Daniel B. Kershaw

Front cover: detail of cat. no. 133a Back cover: cat. no. 123 Page 2: detail of cat. no. 115 Page 6: detail of cat. no. 138 Pages 72–73: detail of cat. no. 98 Page 172: detail of cat. no. 137

Graphic Designer Sophia Geronimus Lighting Designer David Clinard

General Coordination and Supervision Amalia Cosmetatou, Director of Cultural Affairs, Onassis Foundation (USA)

In memoriam Demetrios Konstantios Director of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, 1999–2010

contents 11

Foreword Pavlos Yeroulanos Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Hellenic Republic

12 Foreword Anthony S. Papadimitriou President, Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation


Preface Eugenia Chalkia Anastasia Lazaridou

21  Introduction late antiquity: anomaly and order between a pagan and a christian world Peter Brown


late antiquity: a period of cultural interaction Ja´s Elsner


the rise of christianity: from recognition to authority Averil Cameron


urban setting Helen Saradi–Mendelovici


the transition from paganism to christianity: the numismatic evidence Ioannis P. Touratsoglou

43  personal adornment: glory, vainglory, and insecurity Henry Maguire


death and rebirth Aristotelis Mentzos


christian worship Kimberly Bowes


the emergence of christian art: old themes and new meanings Fabrizio Bisconti


portraits and icons in late antiquity Katherine Marsengill


aesthetic shifts in late antique art: abstraction, dematerialization, and two-dimensionality Slobodan C´urcˇic´



173 abbreviations 175 bibliography


Lenders to the Exhibition

Contributors to the Catalogue


Polyxeni Adam-Veleni, Director, Archaeological Museum,

Nicosia, Cyprus Museum

Thessaloniki Victoria Allamani-Souri, Deputy Director, 16th Ephorate of


Amphipolis, Archaeological Museum

Anastasios Antonaras, Curator, Museum of Byzantine Culture,

Athens, Akropolis Museum


Athens, Benaki Museum

Dimitris Athanasoulis, Director, 25th Ephorate of

Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum

Athens, Museum of Cycladic Art

Christina Avronidaki, Curator, National Archaeological Museum,

Athens, National Archaeological Museum


Athens, Numismatic Museum

Martina Bagnoli, Curator, Head of Medieval Art Department,

Athens, The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum

Corinth (Ancient), Archaeological Museum

Kalliopi Baïrami, Curator of Antiquities, 22nd Ephorate of

Corinthia, Isthmia Archaeological Museum

Delphi, Archaeological Museum

Fabrizio Bisconti, Professor, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia

Dion, Archaeological Museum

Eleusis, Archaeological Museum

Kimberly D. Bowes, Associate Professor of Classical Studies,

Elis, Archaeological Museum

Hypati, Archaeological Museum

Peter R. Brown, Professor of History, Emeritus,

Nisyros, Archaeological Museum

Olympia (Ancient), History of the Olympic Games Museum

Gudrun Bühl, Curator and Museum Director, Dumbarton Oaks

Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum

Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture

Dame Averil Cameron, Keble College, University of Oxford

Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Thessaloniki

Byzantine Antiquities, Corinth

The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Rhodes Cristiana, Vatican, and Roma Tre University, Rome University of Pennsylvania Princeton University Collection, Washington, D.C.

Eugenia Chalkia, Director, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens Athens, 1st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Georgia Chatzi-Spiliopoulou, Director, 7th Ephorate of Prehistoric

Athens, 3rd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Chalkis, 23rd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Slobodan C´urcˇic´, Professor of Art and Archaeology, Emeritus,

Corinth, 25th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Corinth, 37th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Stavroula Dadaki, Director, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine

Cyclades, 2nd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Delphi, 10th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Maria Dhoga-Toli, Curator, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens

Edessa, 17th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Aspasia Dina, Director, 7th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities,

Katerini, 27th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities


Kavala, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Sophia Doukata-Demertzi, Deputy Director, 12th Ephorate of

Lamia, 24th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Larissa, 7th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Anastasia Drandaki, Curator of the Byzantine Collection,

Nafplio, 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Olympia, 7th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Ja s´ Elsner, Humfrey Payne Senior Research Fellow in

Rhodes, 4th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

Classical Archaeology and Art, Corpus Christi College,

Rhodes, 22nd Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

University of Oxford; Visiting Professor of Art History,

Thessaloniki, 9th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities

University of Chicago

Thessaloniki, 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities

Vassiliki Foskolou, Lecturer in Byzantine Archaeology,

Tsolozides Collection (Thessaloniki)

and Classical Antiquities, Olympia Princeton University Antiquities, Kavala

Byzantine Antiquities, Kavala Benaki Museum, Athens

University of Crete and Benaki Museum, Athens

Anastasia Gadolou, Curator, National Archaeological Museum, Athens Antonios Georgiou, Curator of Antiquities, 25th Ephorate of

united states

Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum

Sophia Gerogiorgi, Curator, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery

Eugenia Gerousi, Director, Directorate of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum

Kathryn Gerry, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow, Department of

Princeton, Princeton University Library

Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Collection


Byzantine Antiquities, Corinth

Antiquities, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Athens Medieval Art, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Phryni Hadjichristophi, Curator of Antiquities,

Anna Pianalto, Curator, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

Guy Sanders, Director of Corinth Excavations, American School of

Department of Antiquities, Nicosia

George Kakavas, Director, 24th Ephorate of Byzantine

Helen Saradi-Mendelovici, Professor, Byzantine History and

Antiquities, Lamia

Classical Studies at Athens

Nikolaos Kaltsas, Director, National Archaeological Museum,

Civilization, Department of History and Archaeology,


University of Peloponnese, Kalamata

Panagiotis Kambanis, Curator, Museum of Byzantine Culture,

Eleni Sarri, Curator of Antiquities, 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and


Irene Karra, Curator, Akropolis Museum, Athens

Matthias Seidel, Independent Egyptologist and Ancient Art Specialist;

Angeliki Katsioti, Deputy Director, 4th Ephorate of Byzantine

Adjunct Professor, Near Eastern Department, Johns Hopkins

University, Baltimore

Antiquities, Rhodes

Classical Antiquities, Nafplio

George Kavvadias, Curator, National Archaeological Museum,

Alan M. Stahl, Curator of Numismatics, Firestone Library,


Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University,

George Kiourtzian, Epigraphist, Collège de France, Paris

New Jersey

Anastasia Lazaridou, Deputy Director, Byzantine and

Yiannis Theocharis, Curator, Byzantine and Christian Museum,


Christian Museum, Athens

Henry P. Maguire, Professor of Byzantine and Medieval Art,

Ioannis P. Touratsoglou, Honorary Director, Numismatic Museum,


Department of the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University,


Antonis Tsakalos, Curator, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

Despoina Makropoulou, Director, 9th Ephorate of Byzantine

Katerina Tzanavari, Deputy Director, Archaeological Museum,


Antiquities, Thessaloniki

Eleni Manolessou, Deputy Director, 25th Ephorate of Byzantine

Antigoni Tzitzibassi, Curator, Museum of Byzantine Culture,


Antiquities, Corinth

Katherine Marsengill, Independent Scholar, New York

Ioannis D. Varalis, Assistant Professor, Department of History,

Christos Matzanas, Curator of Antiquities, 7th Ephorate of


Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Ancient Olympia

Archaeology, and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly,

Eleonora Melliou, Curator, Archaeological Museum, Thessaloniki

Evangelos Vivliodetis, Curator, National Archaeological Museum,

Ioanna Mennenga, Curator, National Archaeological Museum,



Angelos Zarkadas, Curator, The Paul & Alexandra Canellopoulos

Aristotelis Mentzos, Professor, Department of Archaeology,

Stephen Zwirn, Assistant Curator, Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton

School of History and Archaeology, Aristotle University,


Museum, Athens Oaks Collection, Washington, D.C.

Yorka Nikolaou, Curator, Numismatic Museum, Athens J. Michael Padgett, Curator of Ancient Art, Princeton University

Art Museum

Melina PaĂŻsidou, Assistant Professor in the Department of

Archaeology, School of History and Archaeology,

Aristotle University, Thessaloniki

Anastasia Panagiotopoulou, Honorary Director, 25th Ephorate of

Byzantine Antiquities, Corinth

Vanda Papaefthymiou, Curator of Antiquities, 1st Ephorate of

Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Athens

Kalliope Papangeli, Curator of Antiquities, 3rd Ephorate of

Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Athens

Elena Papastavrou, Curator, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens Eleni Papavassiliou, Curator of Antiquities, 4th Ephorate of

Byzantine Antiquities, Rhodes

Elena Partida, Curator of Antiquities, 10th Ephorate of

Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Delphi


Our special thanks to the Advisory Committee, Program in Hellenic Studies, Princeton University, for their instrumental role in maintaining the highest standards of scholarship for the exhibition and catalogue: Peter Brown, Professor of History, Emeritus Slobodan C´urcˇic´, Professor of Art and Archaeology, Emeritus Dimitri Gondicas, Director, Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies



Art from Late Antiquity is part of our cultural heritage little known to the public, which today is gaining special (and perhaps unexpected) attention. Creations from an era of huge transformation, during which a new social, religious and material culture gradually replaced the old one, the outstanding works of art presented in the exhibition “Transition to Christianity: Art in Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century ad� depict very clearly what it is like to live and create in a world of change; in a time, where anything familiar, safe and tested is left behind, to move towards something new and unknown. Impressively, these artifacts embody a kind of optimism and faith in a better future, as opposed to a pessimistic and phobic notion, as one would expect. This exhibition, which is the fruit of the close collaboration of the Onassis Foundation with the Byzantine and Christian Museum, and where artifacts from other museums in Greece, Cyprus and the United States will also be presented, will be hosted at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, a place where all expressions of Greek Culture and Civilization are consistently projected and promoted. The organization of this Exhibition is very important since it reflects what contemporary Greece is about. It shows how we Greeks honor, protect and introduce to the rest of the world the work of the generations that preceded us. I would like to wholeheartedly thank the people that conceived, designed and now make this exhibition happen, wishing that it becomes not just a starting point for an international scientific dialogue, but also a motive for people from around the globe to visit our country and get acquainted with the birthplace of this grand Civilization.

Pavlos Yeroulanos Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Hellenic Republic



Τ  α πντα ρει, τα πντα χωρε Και ουδν μνει1 Ηρκλειτος

The 2011 exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York conforms with what has become a pattern: it is “unexpected.” It challenges the preconceptions of modern, and not so modern, times in the same way that we have strived in our previous exhibitions to showcase such subjects as Sparta’s culture versus that of Athens and the equivalent, if not equal, role of Athenian women in classical Athens. In this particular instance, I would point out from the outset that the chronology of this exhibition is by itself of particular interest. The end of the classical Greek world is conventionally put at the death of Alexander the Great (323 bc). The pre-Christian philosophical movements that were later subsumed into the teaching of the Christian fathers (in particular, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzos in the 4th century ad) started in the 3rd century bc with the Neoplatonic, Stoic, and Pythagorian philosophers. These movements were later followed by the cults of Mithras, Adonis, Isis, Manes, and others, all before the advent of Christ. Thus, the transition to Christianity, one could say, effectively started in the 3rd century bc and not ad. Unless, of course, one chooses to say that Christianity starts after the Edict of Milan [Mediolanum] (ad 313) and the Council of Nicaea (ad 325). This view would be supported, along with other arguments, by the fact that the Council of Nicaea was presided over by the emperor Constantine I the Great, who was still at that time pontifex maximus, and that Constantine remained a pagan (or a Mithraist) until he was baptized by Eusebios of Nikomedeia (an Arianizing bishop) on his deathbed. Constantine is a typical example of the syncretism and mixed spiritual parenthood of this era. All the more exemplary of the transition we are discussing is the fact that a successor to his son Constantine II was his nephew Julian the Philosopher (r. ad 355–63), also known as Julian the Apostate, apparently a fervent Christian until his accession to the throne. It is true that one can also view this exhibition as either the triumph of Christianity or its assimilation by the pre-existing pagan (for lack of a better all-encompassing word) structures. The philosophy, aesthetic values, social and political practices, imperial policies, and religious beliefs that developed from the 3rd century bc to the 3rd century ad did survive long into the Byzantine Empire.2 Another example will suffice to illustrate my point. The great legal texts of Justinian (ad 529–34)3 are still the basis of the legal system of the world (except notably for the Anglo-Saxons). They are one of the great intellectual monuments of humanity by their influence in Western and Eastern Europe in the centuries that followed, up to this day. And they are firmly rooted in the classical pre-Christian Roman legal tradition.

“Λγει που Ηρκλειτος τι ‘πντα χωρε και ουδν μνει’,” from Plato’s “Cratylus,” in Platonic Opera, ed. John Burnet. Oxford 1903, 402a.




 hus, in the new Akropolis Museum there is a bust dated about the end of the 2nd T century ad, which could very easily be mistaken for a depiction of Jesus Christ. It most likely represents Sauromates II, king of the Bosporan Kingdom. See D. Pandermalis et al., Acropolis Museum short guide. Athens 2011, 53.


J .A.S. Evans, The Age of Justinian: The Circumstances of Imperial Power. London 1996, 204ff., and passim.

We can also see this exhibition in the light of that old cliché “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” which is, in fact, limited to the relative darkness that fell over Western Europe after the fall of Rome to Alaric in ad 410 and finally to Odoacer in 476. In contrast, the eastern Roman Empire continued its own trajectory for another thousand years or so. This shift of military, economic, and intellectual power to the east is another transition that works as an undercurrent in our exhibition. There is one last (important) undercurrent influencing this period. It refers to the great importance for history of “other” peoples and empires east of Constantinople. In Sasanid Persia, Syria, and the Caucasus, we see examples of important, vibrant civilizations in a continuous exchange of words and wars with the Byzantines. The Copts of Egypt, cut off from their Byzantine suzerain, maintain their own language, rites, and traditions, which hark back to the very first phases of Christianity. “Transitions” (in the plural) would be an apt title to our exhibition, especially since by definition all the history of mankind is a transition by itself. The flow of the river of history is never ending. With this exhibition, we try to freeze this flow for a moment, well aware of the difficulty of such an endeavor. Nevertheless, we believe that it will offer a contribution to an important dialectic process that perennially uses the old as a foundation and as building material in order to create the new. The exhibition owes its splendor to a number of important loans from major museums in Greece, the United States, and Cyprus, to which we are very grateful. Our appreciation and gratitude go also to the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and its Minister for once more supporting our effort to promote Hellenic civilization in its diachronic and universal sense. The exhibition’s exceptionally high scholarly and educational level relies on the erudition of Peter Brown, Princeton University Professor Emeritus, the pioneer in the study of Late Antiquity; the art-historical expertise of Slobodan Ćurčić, Princeton Professor Emeritus of Art and Archaeology; and the invaluable support of Professor Dimitri Gondicas, Director of the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies of Princeton University. We are also grateful to the curators of the exhibition, Dr. Eugenia Chalkia and Dr. Anastasia Lazaridou, Director and Vice Director, respectively, of the Museum of Byzantine and Christian Art, for undertaking the project with enthusiasm after the early loss of our dear friend Dimitri Konstantios, the heart and soul of the Byzantine Museum for many years, to whose memory we would like to dedicate this exhibition.

Dr. Anthony Papadimitriou President Onassis Foundation



eugenia chalkia and anastasia lazaridou


Ιησο Χριστ, τα παραγγλματα της ιεροττης εκκλησας σου να τηρώ εις κθε πρξιν μου, εις κθε λγον, εις κθε σκψι εν’ η προσπθεια μου η καθημεριν. Κι σους σε αρνονται τους αποστρφομαι.— Aλλ τώρα θρηνώ· οδρομαι, Χριστ, για τον πατρα μου μ’ λο που τανε —φρικτν ειπεν—στο επικατρατον Σερπιον ιερες. Κ. Π. Καβφης, Ιερες του Σεραπου

The age of transition from antiquity to Christianity, mistakenly identified up to the middle of the 20th century as the decline of the ancient world, began to be better understood in the second half of that century. The question “Décadence romaine ou antiquité tardive? (IIIe–VIe siècle)” was addressed by Η.-Ι. Marrou in his book of the same name (Paris 1977), and he came down on the side of the latter. Like many other earlier and later scholars, Marrou describes a world that was far from “dark” or obscure. It was a world full of life, in which the gradual transition was both creative and productive and in which attempts to adapt to the new requirements of the time were made without a complete break from the past. This exhibition, Transition to Christianity, was proposed by the Onassis Foundation (USA) to the Byzantine and Christian Museum. An advisory committee from the Princeton Program in Hellenic Studies, as well as other distinguished scholars of Princeton University, have contributed to its realization. The exhibition, which Demetrios Konstantios, then director of the Byzantine Museum, began organizing three years ago, focuses above all on Greece as the most representative part of the ancient world and has been arranged in seven sections. It attempts to throw light on various manifestations of a semiChristian, semi-pagan world, like Cavafy’s Syrian scholar, who was “in part a heathen, in part Christianized,” with its passions on the one hand and its ascetic spirit on the other. The crisis that arose in the late 2nd and early 3rd century, as a result of internal and external disturbances in the Roman Empire, also marks the beginning of the end of the ancient world and the gradual transition to the Middle Ages. Late Antiquity, as this period is usually called, is characterized by a merging of old and new tendencies in ideas, art, and religion. Philosophical

Detail of cat. no. 130

Christ Jesus, I try each day in my every thought, word, and deed to keep the commandments of your most holy Church; and I abhor all who deny you. But now I mourn: I grieve, O Christ, for my father even though he was—terrible as it is to say it— priest at that cursed Serapeion. C.P. Cavafy, Priest at the Serapeion Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

movements, principally Neoplatonism, and the mystery religions (mostly of eastern origin) that existed alongside the ancient twelve Olympian gods had a direct influence on the way of life and the art of the new era. The statues of the Greek gods found at Corinth (cat. nos. 2a–g), which most probably once belonged to a house shrine, bear witness to the survival of the ancient religion in the 4th century, a time when Christianity had not just gained ground over the other religions but had also acquired legal status. The taurobolic altar of Kybele and the funerary stele with the symbols of Isis found in Athens (cat. nos. 5, 6) come from the same period, but from another religious environment, as do the much later, 6th-century remains of a wild boar sacrifice (cat. nos. 3a–d) found in the so-called House of Proklos on the south side of the Akropolis, which can be plausibly identified with the school of the well-known Neoplatonic philosopher. It is by no means coincidental that all of these cults coexisted in Athens, St. Paul’s “city wholly given to idolatry.” Despite receiving the good news of Christianity from this same apostle to the heathen and acquiring a Christian community at a very early stage, Athens continued for a long time to be a center of classical education, whose philosophy schools functioned until the year 529, when they ceased to operate by order of Justinian. The ideals of the Neoplatonic philosophy, which were taught in the Athenian schools, are embodied in the face of the “divine man” with the profound gaze and intense facial features, which seem to express his internal world. It was this same model that the Christians used to depict Christ and the apostles of the new religion (cat. nos. 9–11), the legalization and establishment of which is addressed in the second section of the exhibition.

eugenia chalkia and anastasia lazaridou


Constantine the Great (cat. nos. 15–21), with the Edict of Milan (313) and, in more general terms, his attitude to Christianity, played a decisive role in establishing the new religion, which would subsequently become the official religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine’s policy of founding magnificent churches in the great urban centers of the empire also blazed a trail for his successors, whose names are associated with the building of great churches. The bishops played a similar role, occupying themselves, in addition to their administrative and pastoral duties, with the construction and decoration of large basilicas, as the inscriptions engraved on marble architectural members or set in the tesserae of the churches’ mosaic floors and elsewhere bear witness. The content of these inscriptions is often indicative of the theological training of these church luminaries but also their classical education. However, the activities of the bishops were not limited to church building but were sometimes extended to non-ecclesiastical constructions, as in the case of Bishop Epiphanios (cat. no. 30), who helped to rebuild Thessalian Thebes, one of the most important early Christian cities in Greece. The third section of the exhibition relates to the important centers of the Greco-Roman period, which, once Christianized, continued to exist throughout the period of Late Antiquity. Characteristically these cities, such as Thessaloniki (cat. no. 31), the official seat of Galerius in the time of the Tetrarchy and capital of the prefecture of Illyricum—along with Corinth, capital of the province of Achaia; Nikopolis, capital of Old Epiros; Amphipolis (cat. no. 33); Philippi, or Argos—were all reduced in size and their fortifications strengthened because of successive enemy attacks. Yet what mainly distinguishes these cities from those of Greco-Roman antiquity is the change in the urban landscape, which came about as a result of administrative reforms and the new circumstances created by Christianity, which imposed its large basilicas on the urban fabric. The most magnificent residences, town houses, or villas, such as the wellknown House of the Falconer in Argos, remained in the possession of upper-class citizens (cat. nos. 36–38), many of whom also held high office in government (cat. nos. 39, 40). However, the picture of prosperity in the 5th and 6th centuries, reflected in the plethora of splendid religious buildings, changed toward the end of the 6th century. The risk of attacks often forced city dwellers to move suddenly and obliged them to conceal coins and other valuables in order to save them from


looting. Many of the hoards / treasures hidden during that troubled time have come to light in various parts of Greece. One of the most important is the Mytilene Treasure from Kratigos on Lesbos, which contained gold coins, silverware, and gold, which once belonged to a noble family, some of whose members were senior officials in government service (cat. nos. 51a–k). The contests in the Hippodrome—after Theodosios I banned the Olympic Games in 393—were excluded from all the interdictory edicts and became for centuries the most popular form of entertainment. The contests were held under the aegis of the emperor who, to public acclamation, proclaimed them open by making the sign of the cross. The ceremonial form of court ritual was not restricted to the palace but governed every step the emperor took outside, beginning with his obligatory presence at contests in the Hippodrome and at religious celebrations, which were opportunities for the ruler to come face to face with his subjects and sometimes even to find himself in a confrontation with them. The Hippodrome in Constantinople, which was typologically identical to the Circus Maximus in Rome, was a special space in which every symbolic aspect of imperial power was expressed, but it was also a means through which the citizen body could express itself. On the fringes of strictly political institutions, the Hippodrome, as in Rome, was organized in factions or colors, and this, together with a variety of other factors, formed the basis of the capital’s social life and its tensions. The winning horses or quadrigas, and indeed the spectacles of the Hippodrome in general, were a favorite subject for the decoration of mosaics, pottery (cat. no. 52), metalwork (cat. no. 53), and glass (cat. nos. 54, 55), which were sometimes inscribed with the names of the winners. These inscriptions continue the tradition of recording the names of champions of the Olympic Games, as on the copper alloy plaque from Olympia inscribed with the official list of victors (cat. no. 56), dated a few years before Theodosios’s interdictory decree of 393. Heir to a world that celebrated physical beauty, the long period of Late Antiquity gradually brought about the formulation of other aesthetic values. A preoccupation with adorning the face and the body was thought incompatible with the Christian ethic, as is evident from patristic texts. However, the age-old desire to improve one’s personal image by beautifying, clothing, and adorning it with jewelry is attested in objects of varying quality (cat. nos. 57–73), testimony to the constant need of women for

finery and of men for displays of heroism. The attention paid to being elegantly turned out (cat. no. 75) was always to a large extent dependent on the social and economic rank to which people belonged. Decorative motifs were taken from the extensive repertoire of the new iconography, employing the new symbols and images (cat. nos. 58, 59, 71, 72). The finely carved ivory comb (cat. no. 74) is particularly interesting, an object of small-scale sculpture decorated on both sides with images of Roman divinities, identifiable as the personifications of Rome and Constantinople, respectively. Like the time and the place, Roman society itself seems to have become Christianized. Basic human emotions have remained unchanged from the dawn of time: the fear of instability and the hope that certain basic essentials of human existence (good health, sex, material possessions) will be protected from all sorts of risks. In this respect, the boundaries seem to have become blurred when it came to invoking the divine powers of the established religion or other supernatural beings belonging to other mystery cults. Christian piety and “magical” thought are mixed together without distinction by the engravers of amulets, who used pagan, Jewish, and Christian elements or symbols of a protective or apotropaic character, thereby expressing the undying social desire to access divine power. The mystical powers that these amulets embody depend on the form taken by the talisman, its materials, color, and any accompanying text; the hero / rider (cat. nos. 76, 78, 80) and the invocation of the holy name of Jesus Christ (cat. no. 77) give the apotropaic amulets their new salvationist character, just like the souvenirs from the pilgrimage places of the Holy Land. Although Christianity may have imposed itself almost without exception, the pagan substrate to the Christian religion often remained constant in popular thinking, bearing witness in some instances to the strength of earlier traditions. Nevertheless, the more profound changes happened in less obvious ways, given that Christianity, which promoted the idea of man’s rebirth, was disseminating its values to a community that was itself changing slowly and gradually. Personal and social life was being Christianized. Marriage, for example, the dextrarum junctio, remained fundamentally a civic and Roman institution, but now it was blessed by a bishop or priest and acquired new content, being indissoluble except in special circumstances. In the marriage ceremony, in addition to the marriage crowns, rings were used with images of Christ blessing

the married couple on the bezel and inscriptions such as ‘ομνοια’ /  harmony (cat. no. 59), ‘χρις’ / grace (cat. no. 60) and so on. With the emergence of Christianity, the notion of death acquired a different meaning. According to the teachings of the new religion, death does not mark the end of life but constitutes the transition from earthly to heavenly life. This is why death is referred to as “sleep” (κομησις), a word often found in funerary inscriptions (cat. no. 87), and why the graveyards were called cemeteries (κοιμητρια), or “sleeping places.” Christian tombs do not differ in shape and form from pagan ones. Before the Peace of the Church, they usually existed side by side in the same cemeteries, and it is not always easy to tell one from another. Where they are decorated with wall paintings, a crucial distinguishing feature is their iconography, predominantly subjects related to the salvation of the soul, such as those depicted in the painted decoration of the tomb in Thessaloniki (cat. no. 81). During a period in which the pagan and the newly emerged Christian worlds coexisted, elements characteristic of the former inevitably survived in the latter, although they may have contravened the teachings of the new religion. The custom of placing grave goods in tombs, though foreign to the spirit of Christianity, continued to be observed by Christians (cat. nos. 82–86), as did other forms of funerary practices, such as putting offerings in the tombs and holding meals in honor of the dead. Similar practices were observed in memory of the martyrs of the faith, although these differed from those for ordinary mortals regarding their public character. The cult of the martyrs began with the phenomenon of the martyr’s death, when Christianity was still being persecuted, and takes on an official character after the religion was legalized, with churches called “martyria” being constructed above and adjacent to the tombs of the martyrs, scattered throughout the Christian world. The church of Hagios Demetrios in Thessaloniki (cat. no. 97), the Octagon in Philippi (cat. no. 96), and the Lechaion Basilica are among the best known martyria on Greek soil. But important martyria, such as the church of St. Menas (Abu Mena) in Egypt, St. Thekla in Seleukeia in Asia Minor, and St. John at Ephesus, had widespread outreach, and their fame extended well beyond local borders. All these shrines attracted a multitude of pilgrims, who took pilgrim tokens away with them and terra-cotta flasks with holy water or oil (ampullae) as a “blessing” (eulogia) and a form of protection offered by the saints honored there (cat. nos. 92–95).

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The gradual transformation of Christianity into a religion of the masses brought many changes. The religious supremacy of Christianity transformed the public space and made its cult buildings centers of a ritual life around which the whole of public life revolved. The new places of worship, the Christian churches, were either founded on the ruins of pagan temples, now purged of their demons from pagan antiquity, or built with corresponding monumentality from scratch. Among the more important remains from the pre-Constantinian period, the earliest Christian dwelling with painted decoration, is in Dura Europos, whereas most of the surviving monuments, at least in the form of painting and sculpture, are in the west, above all in Rome. In Greece the early Christian monuments belong mainly to the first decades of the 5th century. Moreover, if the archaeological remains suggest that Christian art developed primarily as funerary art, then it is clear that the age of Constantine was of decisive importance for Christian architecture. The choices made then, starting with the two architectural types employed—the basilica and the centrally planned church (e.g., the rotunda), which have their origins, respectively, in the Roman architectural tradition and in funerary monuments of antiquity—determined the subsequent development of Christian cult buildings and perhaps of later religious architecture as well. It is clear that, if the development of the types used was connected with the requirements of the Christian liturgy and (in the case of centrally planned buildings) of the cult of the martyrs, their magnificent form and lavish decoration were the result of imperial intervention. This monumentality is manifested in the dimensions and the architectural style of the buildings. Christian religious buildings were characterized by high-quality architecture. Decorative forms and marble sculpture of the period have preserved some exceptional examples of architectural members (cat. no. 98) from churches with innovative stylistic features, which are nevertheless based on forms familiar from antiquity but decorated with subjects from the new religion. Mosaics also contribute to the splendor of the churches. Christian buildings scattered all over the empire (basilicas, martyria, and monasteries) mark the establishment of the new religion. Liturgical objects, whether or not they are luxury artifacts (cat. nos. 106–108), are connected with the new liturgical requirements and religious activities; sometimes they are offerings made by members of the ruling classes. These artifacts


are not only the objects used in the Eucharist (such as chalices, patens, and liturgical fans), but they also include crosses, censers, and lamps (cat. nos. 112, 109, 110). Some liturgical objects are decorated, such as the paten known as the Riha paten, with its depiction of the Communion of the Apostles (cat. no. 106), the quality of which must viewed in the light of its provincial provenance. The long-term changes that transformed the Mediterranean basin politically, economically, socially, and in religious terms cannot be separated from the transformation of artistic production. In that area, unlike the other sudden and spectacular changes, developments seem to have been slow. The Christianizing of ancient sculpture by marking it with a cross, the new symbolism given to certain figures familiar from the Greco-Roman world, or the re-use of ancient forms that were appropriated by Christian art confirm the persistence—at least in the early centuries—of the pagan past, the strength of resistance but above all the religious continuity between the pagan past and the Christian present. The supposed conservatism of the period conceals a real capacity for latent innovation. In the 4th century, Christianity had not yet consolidated its content or its modes of expression. It was only toward the end of the 5th century that symbolism surrounding the imperial power was definitively and comprehensively Christianized. Art, as the elite classes of the Roman Empire understood it, aimed at promoting imperial power, and it remains a fundamental part of the picture in this period, outstripping what we call religious art. The allegorical nature of the subjects on the silver plates from the Cypriot Lambousa treasure (cat. nos. 133a–c), which are decorated with scenes from the life of David in a fine display of craftsmanship, is an allusion to the emperor. As the pagan era receded, certain customs connected with artistic depictions reappeared in a new, Christianized form: this is when the cult of icons begins to develop, a phenomenon related to the anxiety felt by the inhabitants of the empire in the face of the problems it encountered from the late 6th century on. Purely Christian subjects, such as the cross and narrative scenes of sacred episodes, characterize the final phase of early Christian iconography as does the veneration of icons, which were usually painted on wooden panels. The funerary portraits from Egypt (cat. nos. 139–141) and the fragmentarily preserved encaustic icon in the Benaki Museum (cat. no. 144), also from Egypt, offer a commentary on the Greco-Roman roots of Byzantine icons.

Organizing an exhibition addressed to the public at large always requires its curators and organizers to consider its relationship with the present. An exhibition is considered a success if it can evoke parallels with the present for the visitor. It is therefore justifiable to ask: what is the contemporary relevance of the period presented in this exhibition? Starting from the principle that nothing is born of nothing, that everything continues its momentum for a while even after it has gone, that for something to be created there must be a need for it, and for something to be snuffed out, it must be redundant, that all things, tangible or otherwise, are products of constant flux, transformation, and re-invention, the subject of transition may be thought to be of exceptional interest. The academic study of the transition from the ancient world to the Byzantine was

treated very successfully in the exhibition Age of Spirituality, Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century, which was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1978. However, more recent research, new archaeological evidence, and objects that for the most part come from Greece but have been supplemented with material from American museums, all make what this exhibition has to offer unique. The subject of transition is of exceptional interest now because of its obvious relevance to the present day. The great economic crisis, the coexistence of peoples and communities, the syncretism of religions and multiculturalism are all current issues and of great importance, which are redefining the route that Humanity has to follow.

Eugenia Chalkia Director, Byzantine and Christian Museum Anastasia Lazaridou Deputy Director, Byzantine and Christian Museum Curators of the exhibition

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late antiquity: anomaly and order between a pagan and a christian world Peter Brown The objects gathered here from the museums of Greece and elsewhere speak to us of a very distant age. But it is an age that has always played a crucial role in the historical memory of Europe and the Americas. Attitudes toward the period now conventionally known as Late Antiquity have varied with the fate of Europe itself. For a long time, the last centuries of the ancient world were viewed with a mixture of fascination and terror. The end of Rome was seen as a memento mori for modern times. It was a nightmare that could return. If Rome could be brought low by inner corruption and then toppled by violence from outside, the same could happen to Europe in modern times. To look back, over the centuries, to Late Antiquity was to peer into a twilight age and to be reminded of the darkness that might yet gather in our own times. The modern study of Late Antiquity began with a strong sense of the dark. Scholars who have now reached maturity began their work (in the middle of the last century) in a Europe that had only recently emerged from an age of tyranny and violence, with the ending of what has come to be called (only too aptly) the Thirty Years’ War of modern time—between 1914 and 1945. It was a postwar world, set against the spreading shadow of the Cold War. The mood was favorable to dark thoughts. Conflict, the breakdown of ancient institutions, the passing of ancient ways of life and thought, and the eventual subjugation of the classical world to inflexible and otherworldly religious ideologies: these were the themes on which historians of antiquity tended to linger by preference when they turned to the GrecoRoman world in its last centuries. Many leading scholars believed that shadows similar to those of their own times had come to fall over the last centuries of the Roman Empire, as a result of the military and social crisis that set in after the year 200 ad. In the words of the great Russian historian Mikhail Rostovtzeff: “The social revolution of the 3rd century . . . destroyed the foundations of the economic, social, and intellectual life of the ancient world.”

Detail of cat. no. 1

To read Rostovtzeff was to believe that, after 300 ad, night had fallen on the ancient world. No dawn would appear for many centuries. Rostovtzeff presented the Roman empire of the 4th and 5th centuries as a world brutally cut off from its classical past. Its principal features already looked straight toward the Middle Ages—and the Middle Ages for Rostovtzeff (that great connoisseur of the enlightened bourgeoisie of the Hellenistic and Roman worlds in their days of classical glory) was an icy age, an age of serfdom, autocracy, and dogmatism. It was the same with judgments on the religious ferment of the age. This also was explained in terms of crisis and rupture. In choosing the title of his 1963 lectures, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety, the great Irish scholar E. R. Dodds borrowed the term “Age of Anxiety” from his friend, the English poet W. H. Auden. For Auden the phrase summed up the sinister recrudescence of physical and intellectual violence that had swept across the Europe of the 1930s. For E. R. Dodds, the age between Marcus Aurelius and Constantine was similar. In his view of the 3rd century, Dodds extended the negative judgment of Rostovtzeff: “From a world so impoverished intellectually, so insecure materially, so filled with fear and hatred as the 3rd century, any path that promised escape must have attracted serious minds. . . . The entire culture, pagan as well as Christian, was moving into a phase in which religion was to be coextensive with life, and the quest for God was to cast its shadow over all other human activities.” Only in the 1960s and 1970s did this sense of darkness recede. Scholars who devoted renewed attention to this period came to realize that such a view of the years between 200 and 600 was misplaced. Their researches recaptured a very different world. It was as if modern scholars had come out from a region of chill shadows into a landscape still warmed by the late afternoon sunlight of a very ancient world, now entering its last and most tantalizing transformation. The message of the new scholarship was clear. There was life after the 3rd century; and this life came

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to bear the name of “Late Antiquity.” This exhibition is devoted, in large part, to showing the strange and colorful life of an age that was once consigned to the shadows as an age of death and gloom. How has this revolution in contemporary scholarship come about, and how do we now characterize the civilization whose outlines we have recovered? These are the two questions that need to be addressed in an introduction to an exhibition whose very brilliance and diversity speaks for itself against an older, more melancholy view of the end of the ancient world. We should begin by giving due weight to a subtle change in the mood of Europe itself. Scholars have grown suspicious of melodramatic ruminations on decline and fall and on the end of civilization. Such rhetoric now strikes many of us as a form of cultural narcissism. Like hypochondriacs who consider that their illness alone is worthy of attention, those who adopted the rhetoric of crisis and decline when describing the end of the Roman Empire seemed to assume that the dilemmas of their own, contemporary Europe (terrible though these might be) were mirrored in that distant age, an age of which they often knew very little. They were prepared to listen to the distant past only if it spoke to them about themselves. But what if that distant past spoke of other things than our own immediate concerns and brought us into landscapes different from our own immediate world? Put briefly, the wish to overcome the cultural narcissism that led us to see the end of classical civilization in terms only of crisis, rupture, and decay was what fired the study of Late Antiquity in its first decades, from the 1960s onward. What was at stake was a new approach to the study of the continuity between the ancient world and the centuries that succeeded it. Instead of being content with an abrupt scenario of total breakdown—a sort of historical Grand Guignol or horror movie—we faced the more difficult task of assessing the resources of an entire civilization as it entered into a new phase of life: its links with the past, its capacity to survive, and its ability to adapt creatively to altered circumstances. And it is here that the study of the Greek world in general (and of the archaeology of Greece, the Balkans, and the Middle East in particular) has proved to be the pacemaker of Late Antique scholarship. This was a significant relocation of a debate that had begun with Edward Gibbon’s monumental History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire of 1776 onward. For Gibbon had concentrated almost exclusively on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe. His chapters on the emperors of East Rome and on Byzantium were notoriously dismissive. For this reason, the exuberant creativity of the Greek world of Late Antiquity provided the most decisive refutation of the views of Gibbon and of his followers in recent times. Their


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viewpoint was essentially parochial. It did not account for what happened outside Western Europe. By contrast, the creativity of the Greek East has come to be appreciated by scholars of literature, religion, and philosophy in the writings of pagans and Christians alike. It has recently been revealed to art historians and to archaeologists (often for the very first time, in a series of stunning acts of recovery) as they follow the rich evidence of Late Antique material culture, which stretches in an unbroken arc from Nikopolis (Preveza), Argos, and Thessaloniki through Constantinople and modern western Turkey to Syria, Jordan, and Israel. Seen from the viewing point of Greece and further east, the “awful revolution,” whose tragic stages and ignominious end was traced by Gibbon in the provinces of Western Europe, concerned a distant region. Here was a different story told under a different, more peaceful, eastern sky: the preparation, throughout the territories still ruled from Constantinople by Roman emperors, of a Byzantine civilization that would last for a further millennium. We must remember—simply in order to preserve a sense of proportion—that, for much of this time, events in Western Europe could be regarded, from the east, as a sideshow. The east stood out as the more peaceful and more prosperous region. No church built in the west equaled the size and majesty of the Hagia Sophia built by the emperor Justinian in Constantinople. This prosperity was not confined to the capital. In recent years, archaeologists in Jordan have discovered in Madaba (as in other similar large villages) as many churches as existed in all of Paris around the year 600. Many of the brilliant mosaics that delight us in this exhibition were laid, by proud and prosperous owners, a century after such mosaics had vanished forever from the derelict villas of Gaul, Spain, and Britain. What we see in this exhibition is particularly valuable. We are given a glimpse of a rich and confident world, as this has been caught—from the ground up, as it were—in the archaeological remains of Greece. But Greece was only one (and by no means the most prosperous) of the many provinces of an eastern world to whom Gibbon’s majestic narrative of decline and fall in Western Europe simply did not apply. So what does this journey in search of a world beyond the classical ancient world teach us as scholars? And what are the features of the civilization that emerged in the period of Late Antiquity that might speak to us in our own times? In the first place, we have developed a far greater respect than previously held for the manner in which Late Antiquity still moved to rhythms inherited from the ancient world. We are not dealing with a world that had broken brutally with its own classical past. It was not a world overshadowed by bleak ruins. Rather, it was a world that grew tenaciously from the deep soil

of the ancient Mediterranean. It changed dramatically, as a robust ecological niche can change in balance and intensity. But this exuberant growth was not checked, as if by some toxic effluvium. It continued to bloom. It often bloomed in ways that would have disconcerted classical persons (as it continues to disconcert those modern persons who have admiration only for Greeks and Romans of the classical age). But the one thing it did not do was shrivel. It is worthwhile emphasizing this element of continuity in the culture of Late Antiquity and in the deployment of its technical skills. Those who pass through this exhibition with the essays of this catalogue in hand will be struck by the number of times the authors of these essays point to the continuities in craftsmanship, in function, and in taste, which bind together artifacts that seem at first glance to belong to widely different worlds. To take only one vivid example: looking at the row of splendid portrait busts of philosophers and Christian saints, we can almost see ancient stones change over time. At a silent, almost glacial pace, the heads of pagan philosophers of the 3rd century become the heads of Christian apostles of the 6th. Although the one was pagan and the other Christian, although one came from the middle of the crisis of the 3rd century and the other from the reign of the emperor Justinian, each looked more like the other than either of them looked like a portrait of the classical age. For both belonged to the same age, an age in which pagans and Christians alike had come to admire novel heroes and heroines whose eyes and minds strained to penetrate the mysteries of God. Both breathed the strange air of Late Antiquity. So what was distinctive about that air? Let us look briefly at the principal features of the civilization of Late Antiquity as it has come to strike modern scholars. First and foremost, I would stress the unparalleled outreach of the Late Antique civilization of the eastern empire of the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries. This outreach was both social and geographical. Though awesomely hierarchical in many ways, the world of Late Antiquity always had room for the little man. Indeed, it was hierarchical precisely because hierarchy itself was not seen as a series of defensive walls thrown up around a fixed elite, like those surrounding the feudal nobilities of Western Europe or Sasanian Iran. In the eastern empire, hierarchy was a ladder. It was a way of channeling the constant pressure created by the upward mobility of persons and ideas from below. This was a ladder frequently climbed by the enterprising and the ruthless, but it was also a ladder that enabled the splendor of the rich and powerful to trickle downward (as we see so often in this exhibition) in the form of household ornaments, of cheap copies of prestige works (where ceramic and stucco work make do for gold, silver, and precious marble),

and of downscale forms of personal adornment. These have been discovered by archaeologists all over Greece. Small objects in themselves, they call for us to spend time with them, for they show the ladder of Late Antique society at work along its lower rungs. They echoed among relatively humble persons (townsfolk, minor civic notables, comfortable farmers in provincial Greece) the eerie majesty of the court of Constantinople. The same ladder ensured that ideas debated at the top of society circulated, more widely perhaps than ever before, through all levels of the population. The rise of Christianity added an entire new dimension to the flow of ideas around the Mediterranean and along the western shores of the Middle East. The rallying of large urban congregations and of entire regions to differing versions of the Christian faith was a major feature of the great theological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries. This phenomenon provoked no more than a sneer in Edward Gibbon, but it should be seen as part of a remarkable “democratization” of culture. For the first time perhaps since the days of the Greek democracies, the voices of little men and women made themselves heard throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East— this time on religious issues that were capable of gripping entire congregations from top to bottom. The churches of the Late Antique period that have been excavated in Greece as elsewhere survive now only in their silent stones. But at the time they were far from being dim, hushed places. Blazing with light, they were filled with the noise of chanting, sermonizing, and protest. By the time of Justinian, the great Christian basilicas and the spacious courtyards through which they were approached had emerged as the forums of a new urban society. The traffic of ideas up and down the ladder ensured that Greek culture (largely but not exclusively in Christian form) spilled out of the narrow confines to which it had been limited in classical times. Late Antique Christianity was exuberantly multilingual. In large areas of the Middle East, Syriac rose to equality with Greek as a language of hymns, of lives and legends of florid saints, and of long, poetic meditation on the Scriptures. Ancient languages, such as Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and Ge’ez, were written down in order to do justice to local Christian heroes and, at the same time, to keep up with the pace of universal Christian debates that took place in every language of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. By the year 500, the proud “empire of the Romans” could no longer think of itself as living in splendid isolation. It had come to be flanked by a “commonwealth” of Christian kingdoms that stretched from the Caucasus to Ethiopia. Mediterranean Christianity was linked to a wider Christian world through a series of churches that stretched across Mesopotamia and Iran

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as far as Xi’an, the western capital of China. The frontiers of the Late Antique world had burst open to look out on a world of faith whose horizons were wider even than those once opened up by the conquests of Alexander the Great. It is tempting to linger with enjoyment on this fact. But it is important to add that this unprecedented outreach also helps us to explain what, to modern persons, are some of the more disturbing aspects of Late Antique civilization: that is, its high levels of intolerance and its apparent valuing of aggressive conflictual attitudes toward imagined “others”—heretics, pagans, and Jews. From the time of Gibbon to the recent showing of the death of Hypatia in the Spanish film Agorá, these acts of intolerance have played a large role in the popular horror movie of the decline of Rome. Yet such intolerance is better explained as an almost systemic reaction to the remarkable outreach of the civilization of Late Antiquity. We are dealing with a world that had opened itself to The Other to an unusual degree. Areas of experience, persons, social groups, and entire societies that had lain beneath the supremely aristocratic field of vision of classical Greeks and Romans came to press in around the consciousness of Late Antique people. The result was a society more than usually conscious of its own anomalies. Some civilizations are based on the successful exclusion of anomaly. They have a graciousness that comes from supreme obliviousness to structures and values other than their own. Other civilizations are more open to anomaly. The civilization of Late Antiquity was one of those. Areas of life and of personal experience that had once been treated as if they occurred on another planet came to be caught in the great web of the Late Antique imagination. They stirred up both fear and longing through their novel closeness. Take one well-known example of fear that came from closeness: attitudes to the barbarian. Along the frontiers of the Roman world, the barbarians had once been treated (by all except the few military experts) as if they lived on another planet. In Late Antiquity this world came to mingle with the Romans, and constant contact between the two worlds was the great open secret of the age. It produced the robustly hybrid military culture of the early Byzantine world, whose generals and fighting units were recruited from as far apart as the Danube and the Caucasus. So diverse a world could no longer be ignored. In the time of Marcus Aurelius, Galen could claim that he wrote only for those who lived in the charmed circle of Greece and Rome: “I no more write for Germans than I would write for bears and wolves” (Galen, de sanitate tuenda 1.10, ed. Kühn 1825, 51). Such haughtiness would have carried little weight in a Constantinople


introduction late antiquity

where even the emperor Theodosios II was one-eighth Frankish, and where the workshops of the imperial city turned out ornaments in “barbarian” style, studded with garnets from Afghanistan and decorated with motifs that had passed from China to the Black Sea. Art that we usually associate with “Germanic” barbarians came, in fact, from the very heart of the cosmopolitan eastern Roman Empire, while, to the east, the court of Constantinople remained in constant and fruitful cultural contact with Sasanian Iran. The waves of anti-barbarian feeling that characterize Roman opinion in both east and west in the 5th century are well known. They have usually been taken at face value as reactions to a real threat of submersion by marauding hordes. As a result, the onslaught of the barbarian always plays a sinister role in the modern horror movie of the fall of Rome. In reality, the fear of the barbarian was a tribute to the fact that, for good or ill, the barbarian had come to stay. From being a creature from another world, the barbarian had become an “inner demon” firmly installed in the Late Antique imagination as a live-in enemy—as a threat, a neighbor, and a resource all in one. A civilization that had opened itself up to so many new groups, each of which brought with it a novel and disturbing sense of anomaly, had to pay a price. This price was a fierce desire for order, in which troubling anomalies would be excluded or kept in their proper place. We can see this most clearly when we turn to the rise of Christianity in the Late Antique period and to the fate of the paganism that Christianity was supposed to have replaced. The pagan was the “inner barbarian” par excellence of the Christian imagination. The very proximity of pagans and Christians as worshipers and neighbors within the same cities—which is so vividly documented in the first part of this exhibition—ensured that both groups suffered more than usually sharply from the sense of anomaly generated by close contact. In the 3rd century, pagans persecuted Christians so fiercely precisely because they were not alien to them: they were ordinary townsfolk like themselves, who, for no apparent reason, held back from the universal practice of worshiping the gods. In later centuries, Christians persecuted pagans for very similar reasons. Here were people just like themselves. Many, in fact, were their grandparents and great grandparents. (Indeed, one Christian lady whose impeccably Christian tomb was discovered in the great cemetery at Demetrias—near Volos—claimed, without a hint of embarrassment, to be descended from Achilles!) Yet they opposed the rise of the Christian church and refused to see that its alliance with the empire through the Christian successors of Constantine had ushered in a brave new age.

More dangerous yet was the fact that pagans stood for the mighty weight of a past that was shared by pagans and Christians alike. Christians of the time called pagans “Hellenes”—Greeks who had remained mired in the worship of the ancient gods of Greece. But like their Christian neighbors, they were nonetheless Greeks. At any moment their thoughts might come alive again in Christian minds. The beloved images of their gods (which surrounded Jews and Christians in every city of the Mediterranean) might stir again with uncanny vigor. As late as the end of the 7th century, a respectable Christian woman was disturbed by frequent dreams that she was “standing in the Hippodrome [of Constantinople] . . . kissing the statues that stood there, urged by an indecent desire to have intercourse with them” (The Life of St Andrew the Fool, 35.2491–2493, ed. L. Rydén 1995, 174). Her nightmares showed that Christians were faced by the greatest anomaly of all. They claimed to be living in a bright new future, yet all around them—from family memories at shared tombs and village pilgrimages to ancient sacred caves to the monumental facades of great cities—little had changed. They could never be quite sure that they would ever become Christian enough to put this troubling past behind them. Hence we should never underestimate the achievement implied in the room devoted to the Christian basilica in Late Antiquity. For the victory of the Christian church in Late Antiquity was by no means a foregone conclusion. Paganism did not obligingly roll over and die, leaving the field open to a triumphant church. Instead, the victory of Christianity was the result of slow, hard labor on the imagination of an entire society, in order to produce (through constant dialogue and confrontation with non-Christians) a clearly focused Christian thought-world. In this immense imaginative adventure, churches great and small represented fragile islands of Christian order. They had been built up, slowly but surely, over the course of the 4th and 5th centuries. But they only came to stand out with a novel certainty in the age of Justinian. In such churches, believers of all levels of wealth and culture could gather in an environment from which the anomalies that were still rife in the streets of cities and in private homes were excluded. Great crosses carried in procession, placed on mosaics or carved on large marble panels along with innumerable smaller crosses, provided the faithful with condensations of the sacred that were shorn of the ambiguities that still hovered around other forms of art and sculpture. Images of the saints began to emerge (still somewhat tentatively) at this time—in the 6th century, that is, and no earlier. They were charged with the same sense of the loving presence of the absent dead as had once inspired the gripping mummy portraits of Egypt. But these

beloved dead were now the special dead; they were the saints, who opened the doors to a Christian otherworld whose outlines had become ever more certain with the passing of time. Above all, over the years, the solemn drama of the liturgy slowly soaked every moment of the year and every corner of the church with Christian meaning. One thing that the silence of an exhibition room cannot convey is the web of sacred sound that the Christian liturgy had begun to spin around the life of the average believer. Yet, maybe, in the end, it was the liturgy that proved decisive. In the words of Dom Gregory Dix, the author of The Shape of the Liturgy: “This is the joint creation of Greek Christian theology and the old Hellenic public spirit, working together on a Syrian rite. Along with the Digest of Justinian, it is the greatest legacy of Byzantine thought to the world.” And, like the legal codes of Justinian, the early Byzantine liturgy represented a victory of order forged in the midst of manifold anomalies. It was these anomalies, and the ordered response they elicited over the years, that rendered the civilization of Late Antiquity uniquely dynamic. It was the last and the most open of the great ages of antiquity. Of this great story an exhibition can show only fragments. But it is precisely because in this exhibition we meet so many fragments (often revealed to us by happenstance through the rare enterprise and skill of Greek archaeologists) that we meet what we most wish to meet. These poignant fragments of a longlost age speak to us directly of what it was like, on the ground, to live through an era of mighty transition. It is this that brings them closest to us. For we, also, live in a world of change whose horizons have opened up dramatically. We, also, do not know the future. In this we are like the sturdy peasants of early Byzantium, poised between two ages, as they have been unforgettably described for us in the poem of Kostis Palamas (Life Immovable. A hundred voices. Third night, no. 53): We are neither Christians nor pagans, With crosses and with idols, We are trying to build a new life Whose name is not yet known.

Bibliography Kühn 1825, 51; Rostovtzeff 1926, 477; Dix 1945, 548; Peeters 1950; Dodds 1965, 100–101; Arrhenius 1985; Bowersock 1990; Cameron – Long 1993; Fowden 1993; Rydén 1995, 174; Maguire 1999, 238–57; Brown 2000; Carrie et al. 2001; Kelly 2004; Bowersock 2006; Canepa 2009; Shephardson 2009; Jones 2010, 80; Brown 2011; Brown 2011b, 6–19; Walker (forthcoming).

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late antiquity: a period of cultural interaction Ja´s Elsner In the history of art, Late Antiquity has always had an uncomfortable position. It is the archetypal period of artistic transition, which sits between the glories of Greco-Roman naturalism and the heights of Christian art in Byzantium and the medieval west. It has unfortunately, but perhaps inevitably, been long seen as a kind of nadir—the point to which the classical tradition declined and the point of primitive origins from which Christian art arose. The historical causes that have been summoned to explain the changes apparent in Late Antique art include the model of a crisis internal to the Roman Empire during the 3rd century (in which is posited the loss of artists and the collapse of stylistic canons upheld for a near millennium) and the model of an assault on the integrity of Greco-Roman art by the external styles and forms espoused by varieties of outsiders, including the adherents of the “Oriental” religious cults of the east and the numerous tribes of barbarians who invaded from the north. The stories told to give these suggested causes substance, which all have long literatures and complex agendas in the histories of the European nations within which they were created, are contradictory, except insofar as they collude in a general agreement on Late Antique art as a time of transition: its importance was to be measured in what it brought to an end and what it prepared for. Needless to say, I think these kinds of narratives are largely self-serving and always based on selective evidence. Most people would deny them today, although hints of their underlying positions continually resurface in versions of the current account of a vibrant and exciting Late Antiquity as a period of fundamental transformation in European, North African, and Near Eastern cultures. The key art-historical issue in a period of radical cultural transformation is the coexistence of innovation and originality, with continuity reaching back into a wide range of deep-seated traditions, not only Greek and Roman but also Pharaonic and Ptolemaic Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Persian, Semitic, African, and indigenous pre-Roman in the north (from Spain via Britain to Gaul, Germany, and Dacia) and also brought by “barbarian” tribes in the period of invasions that began at the end of the 2nd century. We may see the objects in the exhibition from the cults of Isis, Magna Mater (Kybele), and Mithras as representing not only specific religious affiliations, but also the grounding of these religions in non-normative, non-Greco-Roman styles and iconographies (by contrast with the statuettes of deities from Corinth) that evoke the mysteries of the east in a general way. The extent of the period of transformation that constitutes what we might call “Late Antique art” thus stretches over a very long span of time (one might even say a millennium, from the beginning of the Christian era to about 1000, if we include the survival of certain kinds of Hellenizing styles and mythological subject matter in Byzantium).


It also covers a very wide geographic spread across all parts of the Mediterranean and deep into the hinterlands beyond. In terms of cultural spread, the heritage of ancient Greek and Roman artistic forms and of redefining them to meet new religious, social, and local concerns extends well beyond Christian art in the Mediterranean to Sasanian art in Persia, to early Islamic art (especially that of the Umayyad dynasty) and to the Buddhist arts of Gandhara as far from Europe as Afghanistan and Pakistan. What we may call cultural interaction is both an interrogation of forms, styles, and subject matter across this vast extent of space and an integration of varieties of pasts and cultural heritages, most quite distinctive and exclusive of others at any rate in their origins. In this sense, Late Antique art both created a new series of syntheses from the varieties of local visual traditions of the Roman Empire and in the Mediterranean area settled into its own new localisms—loosely related to a range of metropolitan centers and provincial capitals such as Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Thessaloniki, Jerusalem, Arelate (Arles), Ravenna, and, of course, Constantinople. Above all, Late Antiquity saw the powerful, sometimes very eclectic, harnessing of old forms and materials for new purposes and styles, especially within the borders of the Roman Empire for the needs of a new religion that few in 300 would have taken very seriously. By 400 it had not only supplanted but was busy making illegal all the other religions of the pagan polytheistic environment. Issues of change and cultural interaction are by no means limited to the visual arts, but there is no doubt that the forms, styles, and uses of objects partook of a wider phenomenon. If one were to open with an example, then the comparison of two images just under three centuries apart demonstrates well how wary we should be of overgeneralizations. The marble statue of Flavios Palmatos (Flavius Palmatus), consular governor of Caria and acting vicar of Asiana, was set up on a high base (nearly as tall as the slightly over-lifesize statue itself) in front of the west colonnade of the tetrastoon square before the theater of Aphrodisias, a prime spot in the monumental heart of the Late Antique city center, probably in the early years of the 6th century, but at any rate before the post of vicar was abolished by Justinian in 535 (fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Marble statue of Flavios Palmatos, before ca. 530. From Aphrodisias in Caria, Asia Minor. Aphrodisias Museum (Photo New York University Excavations at Aphrodisias; Guido Petruccioli).

late antiquity: a period of cultural interaction

The inscription on its base reads: To Good Fortune. The renewer and founder of the metropolis and benefactor of all Caria, Flavios Palmatos, distinguished Consular Governor also holding the position of most magnificent Vicar; Flavios Athenaios, most splendid father of the most splendid metropolis of the Aphrodisians set up [this statue] in gratitude. Wearing the distinctive and modern form of Late Antique toga, fashionable among high dignitaries in his time, carrying both the mappa (napkin) in his right hand and a consular baton or scepter of office in his left (the top unfortunately broken off), Palmatos has a stubbly beard and a magnificently executed “mop” hairstyle of a kind found in other Late Antique statues from the east. His is the best-preserved late Roman portrait monument surviving. It attests to the remarkable longevity of the genre of honorific portrait statues with inscribed bases from archaic and classical antiquity through to the 6th century. This kind of conservatism is apparent also in busts of philosophers and intellectuals, which emulated in later antiquity the kinds of 3rd-century busts displayed in the exhibition. Although the image of Palmatos, in its particularities of personal styling and dress (which are cosmopolitan, indeed Constantinopolitan), is strikingly modern and à la mode for the years immediately after 500, its function, material form, place and context of setting, and, indeed, its honorific purpose are fundamentally traditional. An object like this, from one of the great cities of Asia Minor, which as late as the 6th century preserved its ancient civic amenities and the capacity for producing superb sculpture of this kind, attests to pockets of profound continuity with the cultural patterns, social and political traditions, and public visual benefactions of the Roman Empire since its foundation, and of the Hellenistic world before it. Yet while Palmatos’s image is a newly cut figure and head, other Late Antique statue-monuments found near it—and clearly part of the same commemorative civic esplanade—were made by the addition of a modern or re-cut portrait head to a recycled 2nd-century body, whose old-fashioned form of toga gave the resulting image a very different, perhaps antiquarian or archaizing feel. One significant example close by Palmatos was a statue of the emperor Theodosios (we are not sure which of the two with that name), originally set up for Julian the Apostate but dedicated to its new honorand between the late 4th and the mid-5th century, with a re-carved Julio-Claudian head set on a 2nd-century toga figure. Palmatos’s statue is traditional, not only in its genre of honorific dedication but also in the fact that it marks subtle differences of appearance within the tradition as a claim to specific distinction (like the choices made in imperial portraiture to differentiate between the styling of the members of any one dynasty and their predecessors and successors): its modernity differs from the old-fashioned appearance of Theodosios, for instance. At the same time, Palmatos’s base in fact comprises two reused bases from earlier honorific statues, one placed on top of the other, with the addition of a new inscription and the creation of an unusual interrupted or double

profile for the newly created base. The entire monument thus combines the dynamics of new sculpture in an ancient tradition with the remarkable Late Antique passion for spolia, the re-use of earlier monuments in new contexts and sometimes for very different functions (although not in this case), which is characteristic of Late Antique art and well exemplified by the Theodosios monument nearby, or indeed in the exhibition’s 3rd-century bust portrait remodeled as a saint in the 7th or 8th century (cat. no. 11).

Fig. 2. Wall painting depicting Samuel anointing David, ca. 245. From the west wall of the synagogue at Dura Europos, Syria. National Museum of Damascus (Photo © Art Resource, NY).

By contrast we might take a painting from the synagogue discovered in the 1930s in Dura Europos in Syria (fig. 2), which shows the prophet Samuel, depicted larger than the accompanying figures in Greco-Roman dress, anointing the youthful David in the midst of his brothers, the sons of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:5–13, although curiously the text mentions seven sons in addition to David, whereas the image only shows six, following a different tradition reported by 1 Chronicles 2:13–15). The subject was indeed labeled “Samuel anointing David” in an Aramaic titulus on the green ground to the left of Samuel’s right shoulder, in case there should be any doubt. Here we find many aspects of cultural interaction in the sense of the borrowing from the artistic styles of the Palmyrene and indeed Parthian context. The mural—like that of Mithras and Helios in the exhibition (cat. no. 7), of closely similar date and from a cult building on the same street in Dura Europos—adopts a flattened-out, frontal style that avoids naturalism of space and spatial setting; that rejects individualism of posture, facial features, or expression; that eschews a realism of relative dimensions to make Samuel much larger than the sons of Jesse. Yet this is combined with traditional Roman forms of dress, recognizably close to Palmatos in terms both of chosen costume and posture—the sorts of dress that were presumably dominant in the city of Dura when the mural

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was made, no later than 245, in the period when the city was under Roman rule as it had been since 165. The mix of Roman and Syrian elements helped create a new iconography for a religion that may only then have been developing an extended narrative tradition for representing its scriptures. (The Dura Synagogue remains our most extended ancient Jewish visual cycle of biblical narratives and one of our earliest; it was more common for Judaism to proclaim itself in art by means of symbols like the menorahs on a capital in the exhibition [cat. no. 8]). The Dura Synagogue paintings absolutely foreshadow the ways Christian art would borrow from the multiple visual traditions of the Roman environment to create its own iconographies in the following couple of centuries. The contrast of this Durene image and the statue of Palmatos (allowing, of course, for their very different functions and materials) is telling. Palmatos exists in real space—a threedimensional presence in realistic costume met on the Roman street by his viewers (albeit at double their height). His insignia speaks of real social meanings—government, administration, the imperial system within which a city like Aphrodisias could continue to flourish into the 6th century. Samuel, David, and his brothers exist in an entirely flat and frontal anti-naturalistic space, placed against a uniform green background with no hint of a setting, affirming a semi-mythical sacred history of Jewish kingship in the era after the fall of the temple (which had originally been built by David’s son, Solomon) and the Diaspora of the Jews. Both images use inscriptions, but that of Palmatos grounds the statue in its honorand’s social and public distinctions, as well as praising the local dedicator of the statue, whereas the Dura wall painting places its subject matter firmly in the sacred world of scripture, Jewish religious history, and its liturgical reenactments. Yet the important historical lesson from this comparison is that the Durene mural, which portends the rise of medieval Christian art in many ways, is in fact a little under 300 years earlier than the much more traditionally Roman portrait monument of Palmatos. The arts of Late Antiquity exist in a complex play of multiple styles, forms, and themes, which cannot be reduced to any simple movement of change along a straight line. Indeed, part of their richness is that the very longevity of certain kinds of ancient formal and functional options, such as honorific statue dedications like the Palmatos monument, existed side by side for centuries with new religious imaginaires exemplified by the Dura Synagogue and by later Christian art. One might indeed see the trends exemplified by both these very different works as unified in a famous masterpiece of early Byzantine art, which dates to less than fifty years after the making and dedicating of the statue of Flavios Palmatos (and indeed may be less than twenty years later, if the Palmatos statue is as late as 530). One of the famous mosaic panels in the presbytery of the church of San Vitale in Ravenna, set up about 546–48 on its northern wall, represents the emperor Justinian (emperor 527–65) with his suite of accompanying officials and clergy (fig. 3). In many ways the Justinian panel is strikingly like the anointing of David from Dura, made 300 years earlier. The emperor, like the future king, stands frontally in the center and


is robed in purple. His surrounding retinue frames him symmetrically, against a background that is virtually abstract—a plain green from top to base in Dura, a gold backing in Ravenna with a green strip for the ground. Both images effectively float their subjects in an indeterminate space that combines secular and sacred company: David’s brothers but also the prophet Samuel, Justinian’s bodyguard (carrying the chi-rho sign of Jesus’ name on the shield prominently placed to the lower left), his officials immediately to his left, and the ecclesiastical party, including the prominently labeled bishop Maximian of Ravenna, on the right. Both images belie the static and iconic feel of their form by depicting a ritual process: the anointing of David, which prefigures his kingship, and Justinian’s carrying of liturgical gifts as he walks toward the sanctuary (and its image of Christ as emperor in the apse) to the east. Indeed, both images come from within sacred space and function to define the sanctity of that space as a ritually consecrated building and to use that sanctity to reinforce the social order of kingship—the historical and scriptural moment of independent Jewish kingship in the case of David and the modern Byzantine empire as it reconquered Italy in the mid-6th century under its spectacular ruler Justinian. At the same time, Justinian and his companions come from the same court and imperial setting that produced Palmatos. Justinian’s imperial officials to his immediate left have versions of the same mop hairstyle as Palmatos, as perhaps the emperor himself does beneath his jeweled diadem. Several figures wear light beards like that of Palmatos, notably Justinian’s slight stubble; and all retain a severe expression similar to that worn by Palmatos. Although none of the Ravenna figures wears the same form of toga or carries the same instruments of office as Palmatos, the mosaic’s fascination with the opulence of official dress and with items that denote function or status—from the paten carried by Justinian to the cross, book, and censer borne by the clerics—echoes the substantive interest in these matters in the Palmatos statue. That is, there is a very good case for claiming that the Palmatos statue represents public, official, three-dimensional art of the 6th century, available in the open air of a main civic thoroughfare in a provincial capital, while the Justinian panel represents something similar on the two-dimensional plane available in interior space and in this case the sanctified space of a church, also in a provincial capital. It is true that Justinian is surrounded by his retinue, whereas Palmatos appears to us as a statue in splendid isolation; but the unique archaeological preservation of the site where the Palmatos monument was found (fallen from its base, with the base still in situ) shows it to have been one statue within a range of honorific dedications that included several other high officials and, as we have seen, a Late Antique statue of the emperor Theodosios. In other words, Palmatos too belonged to an idealized visualization of the court, this time an open-air affair of multiple statues erected over a long period of time. Modern scholarship has seen the Justinian panel as a highly abstracted, heavily ritualized formulation of court culture looking back to such non-classical precedents as the Dura painting and looking forward to the Byzantine icon. It is taken

late antiquity: a period of cultural interaction

Fig. 3. M  osaic depicting the emperor Justinian and his entourage, 547. From the presbytery of the church of San Vitale in Ravenna (Photo © Cameraphoto Arte, Venice / Art Resource, NY).

as an archetypal instance of the transformations of Late Antiquity away from naturalism and toward the Byzantine middle ages. Alois Riegl, writing at the end of the Hapsburg era in the Vienna of 1901, described it thus in a classic formalist account: Take the ceremonial picture representing Justinian and Maximian. A composition on the plane: centralised; just verticals (contour, folds, ornaments; the axiality is only slightly reduced in the figure of Maximian) and horizontals (lines of heads, feet, garment-seams and arms). Spatial composition: the figures step frontally out of space in the direction of the beholder and stare straight at him; even though the main group shows partial overlaps on the plane, along with the entourage of five body guards in three rows, the main group is compressed into one compact plane-like mass leaving no visible space between the figures. The floating of the feet repeats the phenomenon (already observed in the more advanced style early Christian sarcophagi from

Rome) by which the foreground figures appear to step on the feet of the ones behind them; this is obvious proof that the artist’s aim was a complete isolation of the individual figures in space, even at the price of sacrificing the connection to the plane (in this case the connection of the feet with the ground below); linear folds (corresponding to the engraved folds in sculpture), yet inclined towards pleating (as can be seen particularly in the double lines). All this, along with the slim, elongated and stilted-bodily proportions (together with a reduction in head size) largely establish a relationship with the subsequent Byzantine style, which is generally the most characteristic aspect of the style of these mosaics. How one can speak of “decline” in view of works such as the San Vitale mosaics, is incomprehensible since every line demonstrates clear planning and a positive will…?  A. Riegl, Late Roman Art Industry (1901), adapted from the translation by R. Winkes. Rome 1985, 139

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Ernst Gombrich, perhaps thinking of this description without referring to it explicitly, wrote of the same panel nearly sixty years later in a deeply political interpretation that saw the representation of Justinian at San Vitale as implicitly totalitarian: It has become unfashionable to call this reorientation a “decline” and indeed it is hard to use such a word when one stands in San Vitale in Ravenna. The gleam of the mosaics, the intense gaze of the worshipping Emperor, the ceremonial dignity of the scene show the image has recovered some of the potency it once had. But it owes its very strength to this direct contact with the beholder. It no longer waits to be wooed and interpreted but seeks to awe him into submission. Art has again become an instrument and a change of function results in a change of form. The Byzantine icon is not conceived as a free “fiction”; it somehow partakes of the nature of a Platonic truth. E. Gombrich, Art and Illusion. London 1960, 125 Yet whatever one thinks of these two classic statements about this panel in the history of art, which demonstrate the range of formal and ideological ends to which the problems of Late Antique art have been taken in the past century, it may be that the Justinian image is simply the two-dimensional mosaic equivalent of the Palmatos statue: one of them apparently radically innovative (by our—perhaps mistaken—standards) and the other radically traditional. Their coexistence is what defines their period most fundamentally. One might even argue that the move in Late Antiquity, especially after the 6th century, to images aesthetically and formally more like the Justinian panel at San Vitale and less like Flavios Palmatos, has little to do with artistic decisions as such. Rather, it is social changes in relation to the decline of urban culture and cities that rendered three-dimensional statuary in public settings redundant, while the visual arts came more and more to serve the elite needs of the court or the sacred needs of the Church. The visual seeds of these moves may be traced in a final comparison of images from within broadly the same cultural moment within Justinian’s 6th-century Byzantine Empire as both the Ravenna mosaic and the Palmatos statue. Among the earliest icons to survive from Byzantium, now in the monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai, are a few great 6th-century examples on the large scale, used, one presumes, for liturgical processions and public veneration, made in the ancient encaustic technique with hot wax as the medium to hold the pigment. The great panel of the Virgin enthroned between two saints, perhaps St. Theodore and St. George, has the saints staring frontally at the viewer while the Virgin and Child both look askance, with ethereal angels in white behind her gazing up at the hand of God. This is as great a statement of imperial monarchy as the Justinian mosaic from San Vitale, whose basic form of a regally enthroned Virgin is emulated by a number of ivories, large-scale mosaics, and textiles from the 6th century. But its monarchy is not of this world, although it appropriates many of the formal features we have seen—notably the obsession with lavish dress and the status symbols of office, such as crosses in the hands of the saints and staffs held by the angels,


as well as even the mop hairstyle on the beardless saint at the right. In the secular sphere of the most elite court art, this icon may be compared with the two surviving central panels (in extraordinarily deep relief), now in Florence and Vienna, from what were once probably five-panel ivory diptychs depicting an empress standing and an empress enthroned within a magnificent curtained aedicule, perhaps originally flanked by acolytes as the Virgin is flanked by saints.

Fig. 4. Encaustic icon of St. Peter, 6th century. St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai (Photo by permission of St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt).

Likewise, the collection at Sinai possesses a superb 6th-century panel-icon of St. Peter holding both the keys of his office and a cross, in a curved niche with three small circular medallions of Christ between two figures, perhaps Mary and St. John, placed above (fig. 4). Here we have the sacred equivalent of a high government dignitary—a prime saint appointed by Jesus to be the rock of his church and the keeper of the keys to Heaven (Matthew 16:18–19)—who stands between the congregation and the divine world, offering spiritual intercession, as does the secular minister who stands between the emperor and his populace. A series of ivory diptychs, such as those issued by the aristocrat Anastasios in 517 to celebrate his accession to the

late antiquity: a period of cultural interaction

consulship in Constantinople, depict the consul enthroned with three medallions above him that have the emperor in the center, the empress to the right (where the Virgin is placed in the Sinai St. Peter icon), and a more youthful male figure (perhaps a co-consul, perhaps an imagined heir for the elderly emperor Anastasios I, who was to die childless in 518) on the left (fig. 5). Here again we have a version of the frontal gaze, the mop hairstyle, and the opulence of dress and accoutrements of office. Just like Palmatos, although in a different posture, Anastasios holds the mappa in his right hand and an eagle-tipped scepter with an imperial bust in the tondo between the eagle’s

Fig. 5. I vory diptych of the Consul Anastasios, 517. Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (Photo © Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY).

outstretched wings. Just as St. Peter is placed between the beholder and the heavenly sphere, figured by the medallions above him on a gold ground that like his halo break through the polychrome space of his immediate setting, so Anastasios sits between the imperial party, figured by the medallions, and the populace of Rome (actually represented in the bottom of the right-hand wing of the diptych by the spectators watching the arena). Both images perform an act of mediation and intercession within an imagined hierarchy—St. Peter as the key holder of Heaven bridging the gap between this world and the Other world, Anastasios as consul placed between the populace and the emperor. The Anastasios diptych is itself structured as a large fullbody portrait (like Palmatos) set over a base, beneath the consul, which shows images of the public benefactions bestowed by him on the populace, perhaps a theatrical performance on the left-

hand side and games involving wild beasts in the amphitheater to the right. This pattern, on the low-relief surface on a relatively miniature scale and in a highly expensive medium, emulates the large-scale use of elaborate carved bases with relief imagery, as well as inscriptions that were popular in Constantinople in the 530s and 540s for charioteers, like a named figure called Porphyrios, for whom we have two extant examples. The pattern reflects elite status and the circulation of expensive gifts that were simultaneously calling cards in the circle of the imperial court and its high officials. But it creates on the level of public administration a hierarchical or iconic model of imagery that is closely related to the divine hierarchy implicit in the icon and claimed by the emperor in the imperial panel of San Vitale, where Justinian—in the halo of a saint—stands between the populace and the triumphant Christ of the apse as himself a kind of intercessor. In the pluralism of kinds of objects, the developed arts of Late Antiquity in the reign of Justinian echo and develop elements of the much earlier melting pot of styles, visual allusions, and religious references in the arts of the 3rd and 4th centuries, which are so well represented by the cultural interchange section of the exhibition. Yet in the polytheist pluralism of the pagan empire, the range of cult affiliations and more-or-less religious mythologies affirmed through images was extraordinarily large, varying from very local sects and deities via widely dispersed salvific and soteriological cults of initiation (such as Mithraism and Christianity, the cults of Isis and Magna Mater) to official civic religion. In contrast, by the 6th century (and indeed already after the late 4th century), this diversity had been radically reduced, as Christianity’s pagan rivals were ruthlessly extirpated with all the vigor that Christians believed had once been directed at their own persecution. The exhibition’s sacrificial implements from the House of Proklos at Athens (cat. nos. 3a–d) represent rare material evidence of the secret, private, and dangerously illegal continuation of pre-Christian ritual practices as late as the 5th and 6th centuries. The visual pluralism of the mainstream in 6th-century art lay in its mix of Christian-sacred and elite-secular emphases and its use of non-Christian traditional mythological or civic imagery for non-liturgical contexts—from the public street (as with the Palmatos monument) to the private domain of the bedroom and the dining room, from the kinds of imagery used in the baths to that appropriate for the toilette. In such cases, as in the statue of Palmatos, highly traditional styles, techniques, visual forms, and subject matter remained long in play at the same time as and in concert with the more spiritually abstracted forms we have come to see as typical of Byzantine art, such as the stone pilgrim’s token with St. Paul and St. Andrew in the exhibition (cat. no. 13). Bibliography Kraeling 1956; Gombrich 1960; Grabar 1967; Grabar 1968; Bianchi Bandinelli 1971; Brown 1971; Cameron 1973; Perkins 1973; Volbach 1976; Weitzmann 1976; Kitzinger 1977; Riegl 1985; Smith 1990; Weitzmann – Kessler 1990; Elsner 1995; Elsner 1998; Smith 1999; Elsner 2004; Olovsdotter 2005; Deliyannis 2010.

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the rise of christianity: from recognition to authority Averil Cameron The reign of Constantine I (fig. 1) marked a key change in the status of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Even though significant moves had already been made toward acceptance during the 3rd century, persecution began again under Diocletian and the tetrarchs and was still a live issue until Constantine’s final defeat of his last rival and co-emperor, Licinius, in 324. Constantine was the son of Constantius Chlorus, who had risen to the rank of Caesar and then Augustus under the tetrarchic system. As emperor, from May 305 and based in Britain and Gaul, Constantius is said not to have carried out the official policy of persecution of Christians; he did, however, destroy churches, for which the Latin writer Lactantius, tutor to Constantine’s eldest son, Crispus, does his best to excuse him, and when his son Constantine attended his deathbed in York on 25 July 306, the latter’s tendentious biographer, Eusebios of Caesarea, does his best to suggest that his father’s court was a Christian one.

after Constantine became ruler of the west after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312, he and the eastern emperor Galerius’s successor, Licinius, met in Milan and agreed that all religions should have freedom of worship. In what seems to have been a state of some enthusiasm, following the ascription of his victory to the Christian God, Constantine actively intervened in church affairs in North Africa, and the so-called Edict of Milan in 313 became the turning point for the ending of the persecution of Christians. From then on, although Constantine did not defeat Licinius until 324 and the latter’s alleged ill treatment of Christians in his territory featured as a theme in Constantine’s propaganda campaign against him, Christians enjoyed a legally accepted status, ownership and restoration of property, freedom of worship, and imperial protection. Constantine was not baptized until he was near his death, and then by Eusebios of Nikomedeia, a bishop whose doctrinal views were opposed to the conclusions of the Council of Nicaea in 325 (see below). Constantine’s own religious views will always remain controversial. Yet he certainly gave privileges to bishops; built great churches in Rome, Antioch, the Holy Land, and his new foundation of Constantinople (dedicated in 330); and he worked hard to settle Christian doctrinal disputes. Although many of his actions, and his legislation, conformed to Roman tradition, his reign changed the course of the history of Christianity. His sons and his imperial successors were all themselves Christian henceforth, the only exception being Julian the Apostate (361–63); they followed the precedents he had set,

Fig. 2. Bronze coin of Constantine I, in which the chi-rho surmounts the imperial standard over a writhing serpent and the legend Spes Publica. Mint: Constantinople, 327. The British Museum, London, 1890-8-4-11 (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

Fig. 1. M  arble portrait head of the emperor Constantine I, ca. 325–70. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Mary Clark Thompson, 1923 26.229 (Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY).

Constantine was immediately proclaimed Augustus by his father’s troops, but he prudently waited to take the title until he had journeyed to the court of the senior emperor Maximian in Trier and had it formally bestowed upon him. Lactantius claims that when Constantine became Augustus, his first act was to end the persecution of Christians, but it continued elsewhere until the then eastern emperor Galerius formally called it off in 311. Persecution began again in the east in the following year, but


even though they did not all take the same doctrinal positions. Constantine was remembered as the first Christian emperor both by individuals and by the church (cat. nos. 15, 16), and an understanding of his role was enshrined in the Christian political theory developed by Eusebios of Caesarea, according to which the emperor was the vice-regent of God and the Christian empire was the microcosm of the heavenly one. This theory of Christian rule was to become and remain fundamental throughout Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period. The coinage was one of the more conservative expressions of imperial ideology (cat. nos. 18, 19). Constantine himself placed on his later coins an image of his new standard, the labarum, topped with the chi-rho sign, representing the first two letters of the name of Christ (fig. 2), and Eusebios claims that he issued

the rise of christianity: from recognition to authority

coins at the end of his life that show him gazing up to heaven in religious fervor. But the full Christianization of religious imagery was very slow, and although crosses appeared together with victories on 5th-century coins, crosses were not featured alone on coins until the late 6th century, in the reign of Tiberios II (578–82) (cat. no. 27). In fact, this very slow development tells us little about the actual progress of Christianization in the empire or even at court. The Christianization of ceremonies for the accession and crowning of emperors was also surprisingly slow to develop, with the coronation of emperors still taking place in the 6th century in the Hippodrome at Constantinople rather than in a church. But, by contrast, Justinian and Theodora were depicted in the famous mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, with their attendants in the procession of gifts at the Eucharist (fig. 3 and Elsner, fig. 3).

A far better guide to the Christianization of the empire can be found in the number of churches that were constructed at that time. Imperial patronage in the building of major churches began with Constantine, who started building churches in and around Rome after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and it continued under most of his successors. His church building and that of his mother, Helena, in and around Jerusalem, provided an enormous impetus to Christian pilgrimage from all over the empire and led to the development of Palestine as the Christian Holy Land and to its conspicuous prosperity. In the 6th century, the emperor Justinian built not only the present church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople but also innumerable churches in the rest of the empire, including the reconquered province of North Africa. Imperial builders also founded hospices and hospitals, and their churches were provided with endowments for their clergy and

Fig. 3. M  osaic depicting the empress Theodora and her retinue, 547. From the presbytery of the church of San Vitale in Ravenna (Photo Š Cameraphoto Arte, Venice / Art Resource, NY).

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their proper upkeep; state funds had also been deployed even under Constantine to allow bishops to travel to church councils, and provincial governors had been ordered to provide what was needed for the building programs. These developments both transformed the physical presence of Christianity in the empire and demonstrated for all to see that it was supported by imperial policy and resources. Bishops were key to the new system. An ecclesiastical organization developed that, with its provinces and dioceses, mirrored that of the imperial administration. Church councils regulated the seniority of sees and many matters of ecclesiastical discipline as well as doctrine. Again Constantine had led the way by adopting a tone of deference toward bishops, together with the responsibility for the outcome of church councils. Bishops in major sees also came to have the responsibility for handling substantial amounts of wealth, as churches increasingly attracted the legacies and donations that Constantine had made legal. They too were great builders of churches, as we see from the 6th-century inscription of Bishop Epiphanios (cat. no. 30). We know of many powerful bishops during this period. Their influence extended well beyond what in modern terms would be purely church matters: Constantine had set a precedent in giving them secular jurisdiction and guaranteeing the maintenance of bishops and clergy, as well as releasing them from tax obligations. This was an exciting development at the time for bishops like Eusebios of Caesarea, but it soon put them in a complex position vis-à-vis the emperor, in that only the orthodox (that is, those officially approved at any one time) benefited. In many individual areas they took on a leadership role that increased in scope in proportion to the difficulties experienced in keeping up the civil administration. Ambrose, bishop of Milan in the late 4th century, was an ambitious churchman keen to consolidate his own position, and at times he was able to exercise great influence over the emperor Theodosios I. Another “political” bishop was John Chrysostom, a prolific writer and Christian moralist who became bishop of Constantinople in 398. This role could be precarious: John’s predecessor, Gregory of Nazianzos, chose to retire under pressure of complaints about his election, and John himself incurred the enmity of the empress Eudoxia and was forced into exile in 403. A very different figure was Theodoret, bishop of Cyrrhus in northern Syria, in the mid-5th century, another voluminous writer, theologian, and controversialist who also led a busy life dealing with the practical problems of his see. Theodoret wrote in Greek, but his see included a majority of Syriac speakers and some exotic male and female ascetics, whom we know from his Historia Religiosa. Theodoret’s theology was condemned by the second Council of Ephesus in 449 and by the Council of Constantinople in 553, and he became a highly controversial figure from the 430s on, being banned by the emperor from travel beyond his own see in 448 for disturbing the peace. Energetic though Theodoret was in fighting for his doctrinal beliefs, his many surviving letters demonstrate the care and attention that he also gave to pastoral matters.


One of the most important bishops, however, was St. Augustine, bishop of the small town of Hippo in North Africa (modern Algeria) from 395 to 430. Augustine had had a successful career as a teacher of Latin rhetoric in Carthage and Rome, but he himself tells us in his Confessions about his dramatic conversion in Milan under the influence of Ambrose. He returned to North Africa and spent the rest of his life there, preaching and living under a quasi-monastic rule and writing some of the most influential works in the whole of Christian theology, including the City of God. He also conducted a voluminous correspondence with leading lay and clerical figures across the Mediterranean. Christian bishops were highly aware of the importance of communication, and Augustine wrote treatises about the best techniques for reaching every individual in the congregation, from the educated to the ignorant. Through his letters, Augustine was in communication not only with such figures as St. Ambrose and St. Jerome but also with Christian aristocrats in Rome, some of whom fled to his side when Rome was sacked in 410; new letters and sermons by Augustine have been discovered in recent years and vividly demonstrate many of the pastoral and theological concerns with which he grappled. The emperor Constantine set a further precedent in calling bishops to meet at church councils and settle matters on which the church was divided. The most important of these were those summoned by the emperor and recognized later as ecumenical, of which the first was the Council of Nicaea in 325. It was followed by the first Council of Constantinople in 381, the first Council of Ephesus in 431, and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which proclaimed the doctrine that Christ had both human and divine natures and formed the basis of orthodox Christian doctrine in both east and west thereafter. However, there were many in the east who could not accept Chalcedon, and in the 6th century the emperor Justinian, a theologian himself, called a second Council of Constantinople in 553 in the effort to resolve the disagreements. Its proceedings proved highly controversial in both east and west, and it did not prevent anti-Chalcedonians in the east from ordaining their own clergy and eventually forming a separate Miaphysite (“one-nature”) church, known as the Jacobite or Syrian Orthodox. The Church of the East, often wrongly known as “Nestorian,” also developed as a separate church, particularly in East Syria and Sasanian Persia, from where it spread as far east as China. Whereas the Miaphysites emphasized the divine nature of Christ, the Church of the East laid stress on the human. Two other ecumenical councils were held in the 7th and 8th centuries: the sixth, held in Constantinople in 680–81, condemned the doctrine of Monotheletism, introduced under the emperor Herakleios in 638, and the seventh, held at Nicaea in 787, restored the veneration of religious images in the context of the iconoclastic controversy, although the formal end of iconoclasm came only in 843. Council proceedings were issued as formal Acts, and most councils also issued canons, rulings on church order and morality. The ecumenical councils (all held in the eastern part of the empire) were summoned by the emperor, and

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there was considerable state involvement in the arrangements and in influencing the likely outcomes. Nevertheless, emperors did not themselves take part in the main proceedings and followed Constantine’s precedent, according to which the decisions were to be wholly in the hands of the bishops themselves. But emperors did not hesitate to engage in theological disputes, and achieving ecclesiastical harmony was one of the chief aims and duties of all Christian emperors. Rome was recognized as the first in prestige of the five great sees of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, and the Council of Constantinople in 381 declared the see of Constantinople—“New Rome,” the eastern capital—as second in the hierarchy. Not surprisingly, relations between Rome and Constantinople were sometimes difficult, as during the “Acacian schism,” from 484 to 519, which began when Acacius, patriarch of Constantinople, was excommunicated by Pope Felix III for seeming to lean too far in the Miaphysite direction. In 449 Pope Leo I had issued a “Tome,” actually a letter to the then patriarch of Constantinople, which also asserted Roman opposition to the eastern tendency toward Miaphysitism, and was highly influential in the antecedents to the Council of Chalcedon. Among easterners, the patriarch Cyril of Alexandria (412–44), whose theology prevailed at the Council of Ephesus in 431, was a highly controversial figure, and he was succeeded by the even more controversial Dioskoros, who was in fact condemned by the Council of Chalcedon. The path toward the establishment of agreed doctrine was not smooth, and in the 6th century the emperor Justinian’s attempts to deal with Christian divisions caused hostility among both the Roman church and the church in North Africa, which had traditionally close links with Rome. Although there was no official split between the western and eastern churches for several centuries, and indeed, a series of easterners became pope in the 7th century, the increasing political division between east and west was already accompanied by religious differences. Heresy—not merely wrong belief but also wrong practice— was defined by the decisions of church councils, which also condemned individual bishops; imperial sanctions followed, leading to deposition and exile. Many lesser synods and councils also condemned views held to be heretical and the individuals who held them. Among those who were deposed or exiled in this way were some great churchmen, such as Athanasios, bishop of Alexandria, first exiled under Constantine and then again more than once under Constantius II; though himself a pugnacious controversialist, Athanasios is universally regarded as one of the Fathers of Nicene orthodoxy. Emperors also legislated on religious matters, not only against paganism but also against heresy. In the late 4th century, a series of laws were brought in that lay down increasingly severe penalties and exclusions, not only on pagans and Jews but also on heretics. Penalties against Manicheans, “Eunomians,” “Phrygians,” “Priscillianists,” and “Donatists” were set out in imperial constitutions starting under Theodosios I in 381, and similar civil disabilities were also applied to “apostates” from

Christianity, whether to paganism or Judaism. The two great law codes compiled under Theodosios II in 438 and Justinian in 534 incorporated legislation of this kind, and Justinian himself continued to legislate against pagans and issued laws against dissidents, including heretics, Manichaeans, and homosexuals, particularly those who were teachers. At the same time, heresy was attacked in countless theological works, and bishops saw it as their duty to combat wrong belief and do all that they could to promote their own conception of orthodoxy. A huge literature developed with the aim of disproving heterodoxy, demonstrating the truths of Christianity over paganism and Judaism and expounding the Scriptures correctly. It was underpinned by countless sermons and homilies delivered week by week and subsequently collected and written down. This mass of writing by the “Fathers of the Church” became a fundamental source of inspiration and authority for later generations. One of the last theologians in this tradition was St. John of Damascus (d. ca. 750), one of whose greatest works was the Pege Gnoseos, or Fount of Knowledge, in which he aimed both to expound the sum of Christian doctrine and to expose heresy; added to it was a “chapter” on the new “heresy” of Islam. Gentile Christians had endeavored to separate themselves from their Jewish background from an early date, but a complete “parting of the ways” was late in coming. In the late 4th century, John Chrysostom warned his flock against consorting with Jews and adopting Jewish practices, and Jews and Judaism were a frequent target in Christian polemical writing, especially after Jerusalem and the Holy Land were claimed under the Christian emperors as the major destination for Christian pilgrimage. Judaism was viewed with disapproval in Christian legislation but grudgingly tolerated as the religion of the Old Testament. However, imperial attitudes hardened from the 6th century on, and 7th- and 8th-century emperors introduced laws—albeit perhaps more symbolic than realistic—requiring all Jews to convert to Christianity. Again a substantial body of literature had grown up, beginning as early as the 2nd century and gaining momentum thereafter, in which Christian authors sought to demonstrate the falsity of Jewish objections to their faith, and this type of work (known as the Adversus Judaeos literature) continued to be written after the rise of Islam and into the Byzantine period. Imperial support and legislation, the rise of episcopal authority and organization, and the concerted efforts of leading churchmen to identify and condemn heresy and inculcate orthodox doctrine were by no means the whole story. The same period saw the rise of monasticism, which could take many forms, from individual retreat to large (sometimes very large) communal organizations. At times this gave rise to tension and even conflict with the episcopal structures, even though bishops themselves were often monastics. Sometimes groups of monks, such as the followers of Cyril of Alexandria, engaged in rowdy or even violent activities in the context of religious disputes in Late Antique cities. Eastern monasteries were more varied in their types and their monastic rules than those in the west, and

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some, including the large monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem in the 6th century, became centers of theological activism and resistance to imperial religious policy. Another development which might threaten the authority of bishops was the rise of individual ascetics who attracted their own following, among them stylite saints such as Symeon the Elder in the 5th century, who practiced holiness by living for years on end on top of pillars. Such ascetics attracted many visitors, who included important people and even emperors, and some gained a degree of fame and prestige that could run counter to the authority of the institutional church. Authority was not limited to the officially recognized power structures; individual charisma and holiness also exercised a strong attraction, and an important role was played in Late Antique Christianity by those who were perceived as having such qualities. Nor was it just a matter of holy persons themselves: the relics of recognized saints were perceived to bestow immense authority, and the advantages this conveyed were recognized by many bishops, including Ambrose and Paulinus of Nola. The emperor Constantius II considered it important to deposit relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy in the new Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The burial places of martyrs had long attracted Christians to visit them and worship there, and by the 5th and 6th centuries there were countless other holy sites, whether the burial places of saints or shrines associated with miraculous healing, the Christian equivalents of the great oracular shrines of the ancient world. The great shrine and pilgrimage complex associated with St. Thekla at Seleukeia (Meriemlik) in Isauria, southern Turkey, could accommodate huge numbers of pilgrims and received imperial patronage on a large scale in the 5th century. It symbolized the rise of Christianity in the Late Antique world as big business. Imperial authority and patronage were crucial to the establishment of Christianity as the major religion of the Roman Empire, whether through the building of churches or the attempted resolution of theological disputes. The only emperor after Constantine who was not Christian was the eccentric Julian the “apostate” (361–63), who had been brought up a Christian but who, on attaining power, adopted an enthusiastic kind of Neoplatonism, which he hoped would replace Christianity. However, Julian’s reign was short-lived; he was succeeded by a Christian, and all the emperors who followed, without exception, saw it as their duty to promote the spread of Christianity both within the empire and among the empire’s neighbors. Some things were slow to change. Pagan emperors had been recognized as divine, and Constantine too was known as divus, whereas Christian emperors in the 4th century also retained the title of pontifex maximus (chief priest). The Christian emperors did not aspire to the position of head of the church, but they exercised a powerful influence over its development and occupied a unique role as the representatives of God and the protectors of Christianity within the empire.


By the 6th century, Christianity was firmly embedded as the main religion in the Roman Empire, even if its exact form continued to be a matter for dispute and rivalry. Despite the legislation that forbade the old cults, and despite occasional efforts to find and punish their adherents, some continued to resist Christianization, especially in rural areas and among intellectual and philosophical circles. But the official structures supporting Christianity were now strong. Combined with the “soft power” exercised at the same time by personal influence, peer pressure, and a culture in which many forms of Christianity flourished, this meant that the majority of inhabitants of the empire recognized themselves as Christian, and that Christianity represented the prevailing religious environment.

Bibliography Jones 1964; Brown 1971b; Barnes 1981; Hunt 1982; Wilken 1983; Price 1985; Schreckenberg 1990; Athanassiadi 1992; Bleicken 1992; Doran 1992; Barnes 1993; Clark 1993; Fowden 1993; McLynn 1994; Brown 1995; Piétri – Piétri 1995; Brown 1998; Külzer 1999; Brown 2000; Drake 2000; Hall 2001; Louth 2002; Urbainczyk 2002; Jacobs 2004; Young – Ayres – Louth – Casiday 2004; Wessel 2004; Gaddis 2005; Liebeschuetz 2005; Maas 2005; Price – Gaddis 2005; Rapp 2005; Sterk 2005; Blaudeau 2006; Millar 2006; Casiday – Norris 2007; Humfress 2007; Van Dam 2007; Gaudemet 2008; Menze 2008; Girardet 2009; McLynn 2009; Price 2009; Rousseau 2009; Testa 2009; Armogathe – Montaubin – Perrin 2010; Gwynn – Bangert 2010; Rebillard – Sotinel 2010; Perrin 2011; Cameron – Hoyland (forthcoming); Johnson (forthcoming).

the rise of christianity: from recognition to authority

urban setting Helen Saradi-Mendelovici The late Roman Empire was a world of cities. In his Oration To Rome, Aelios Aristides praised Rome for having filled the world with cities and for enabling Greek cities to flourish in the arts and other achievements. Never before had cities been praised with such passion in rhetoric or literature. They were the foundation of civilization, as the Greek and Latin words for the city (polis and civitas) are the root words for describing civilized life (politismos, civility, civilization). They were centers of arts and letters; they were aesthetically appealing, adorned with magnificent public buildings, temples, and impressive colonnaded streets. The goddess Tyche offered prosperity and promised perpetual peace and growth to each city; a tribute to Tyche in Thessaloniki appears in the sculptural decoration of an arch in Galerius’s palace (fig. 1).

Imperial power left its imprint on Greece in the city of Thessaloniki, when Galerius, one of the tetrarchs, chose the city as his residence (298/299–303, 308–11). His ceremonial entry into a city (adventus) is depicted in a scene from the upper tier of the southwestern pillar of his triumphal arch. There is no other place that imparts a sense of the original effect of imperial architecture in Greece as authentically as the complex of Galerius’s palace. Because monumentality was a Roman feature, the palatial complex, articulated in several buildings that served various interrelated functions, gave Thessaloniki an imperial identity and architectural character. Connected to the harbor and next to the “theater-stadium,” the complex of 180 acres contained the palace, the hippodrome, the triumphal arch, the rotunda, baths, and a monumental basilica. It prefigured the important role of the city in the Middle Ages as both a stronghold of the Byzantine Empire against enemies from the north and a major commercial center.

Fig. 1. M  edallion containing the Tyche of Thessaloniki, part of a small marble arch from the area of the Octagon, Galerius Palace, Thessaloniki. Archaeological Museum (Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism).

Fig. 2. The Tetraconch in Athens, 5th century (Photo courtesy of Helen Saradi-Mendelovici).

If Rome was the political center of the Roman Empire, Athens was recognized as the cultural center of the Roman world. Its philosophical schools gave the city an unsurpassed reputation. Renowned citizens studied there, such as the emperor Julian (361–63), who lamented upon leaving the city, as did Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nazianzos. Paganism, nourished by the philosophers, remained strong in Athens for a long time. When the Christian religion was firmly established, Athens was the only city to retain the pagan name of a goddess because of its reputation as the major center of classical culture and education, even after the closing of the Platonic Academy by the emperor Justinian (527–65) in 529.

Administrative changes in the 4th century affected urban life, as the empire’s administration became increasingly bureau­ cratic and centralized. The cities, responsible for local administration and for collecting taxes, became subject to more financial restrictions. They were losing revenues to the provincial governors and state fiscal policy, which made it difficult to maintain public spectacles, public baths, and administrative buildings. Consequently, the urban landscape gradually changed from the 4th to the 6th century. Public buildings were not restored or were assigned new uses; the old urban administrative centers and the agora lost their functions and were abandoned. Christian churches now marked the urban space. Building and

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restoration activities in the cities were becoming a responsibility of provincial governors, who took care primarily of the provincial capitals. At the turn of the 6th century, the pagan historian Zosimos attributed the decline of urban monumentality to the Christianization of the empire and to subsequent ideological changes, while later in the same century Prokopios blamed the financial measures imposed by Justinian, who deprived the cities of their remaining revenues. The foundation of Constantinople in 324 as the capital of the Roman Empire in the east affected the reputation and prestige of the Greek cities. In the same century, Himerios, in his Oratio 41, emphatically stated that during his time Constantinople had surpassed the famous cities of Greece: Athens, Sparta, Argos, and Amphipolis. Constantinople, as the center of political power of the empire in the east, attracted aristocrats, wealth, and intellectuals. Cities also suffered from spoliation by provincial governors who removed objects of art to decorate their capitals. The famous paintings of the Poikele Stoa in Athens, for example, were removed by a governor. Although urban architecture was the vehicle of imperial ideology and civic pride, it was the citizens who gave meaning and function to urban buildings and topography: the upper class, with their classical education and attachment to the civic tradition and pagan religion; the prosperous middle class of traders, artisans, and landowners; and the large lower class, which was becoming more visible in Christian literature. In Late Antiquity, there was an unprecedented increase in population and in urban and rural settlements everywhere in the empire. This was reflected in the dynamic spread of artisans and merchants in organized urban markets and, increasingly, in vacant urban lots and abandoned buildings, plazas, and sidewalks. But it was the upper class that gave urban space its dazzling architectural appearance and material prosperity, and to urban life competitive grandeur, intellectual ambience, and a festive rhythm. Members of the local elite were the municipal officials, who decided most local issues, organized public entertainments and festivals, and gave the cities their cultural tone. The Roman prototype of an upper-class man is best depicted in the “Brother Sarcophagus” in Naples (mid-3rd century), where he is represented in scenes of his private and public life as a Greek philosopher and as a public figure. In the 4th century in Greece, intellectuals were involved in the imperial administration. Hermogenes, who devoted himself to philosophy, was appointed Proconsul of Achaia (ca. 353–58) and restored the harbor of Corinth. Vettius Agorius Praetextatus, Proconsul of Achaia (362–64) and personal friend of the emperor Julian, was a highly educated man and held numerous pagan priesthoods in Greece, especially in mystery cults. The Corinthian sophist Aristophanes was from a family of philosophers. He received an imperial position in Greece, served as ambassador to Egypt (357), and retired to Corinth after Julian’s death. Aristocrats expressed their cultural identity and political status on luxury items, such as ivory plaques and diptychs, fine clothes, and jewels. Tertullian in De pallio discusses the cultural and social distinctions conveyed by clothing, the Roman toga


urban setting

versus the Greek pallium. Ammianus Marcellinus describes the fine clothes of Roman senators, the formality of the draping, the embroidery with gold, their jewels, and how they were exhibited during public appearances. In a world where appearance conveyed prestige and power, belts and brooches became prominent insignia of high civil and military status. Brooches, originally used to fasten the soldiers’ cloaks at the shoulder, became part of the formal dress of civilian administrators. Constantine (324–37) was the first to appear on coins with a special brooch and a jeweled diadem. Then the emperor Leo (457–74) made the adornment of brooches with precious stones an imperial privilege. Thus, in the famous mosaic at Ravenna, the emperor Justinian is depicted with his jeweled brooch, while the subordinate officers wear the gold bow-brooch (see Elsner, fig. 3). Local aristocrats, provincial governors, and imperial bureaucrats defined their cultural identity and promoted their social status with works of euergetism. The bema (platform) of the theater of Dionysos in Athens was restored by the archon Phaedros, who boldly declared his love “for passionate rites.” Lofty dignitaries and benefactors were glorified with the erection of statues in the cities until around the middle of the 5th century, when the production of statues declined, either because of the Church’s hostility toward pictorial representation or because of a changing trend. From the middle of the 4th century, the erec­ tion of bronze statues of magistrates in the cities required imperial permission, and it was considered an imperiale beneficium. Sophists in Athens who were closely connected to high-ranking administrators often promoted their public image by erecting honorific statues. The sophist Apronianos erected a statue in honor of Herculius, prefect of Illyricum (408–10), beside the statue of Pallas Promachos. Herculius repaired the Library of Hadrian, which had been damaged by the Heruli, a Germanic tribe. It has been suggested that the prefect gave the library to the Neoplatonist philosophers and the open court to the Christians, where the tetraconch church (fig. 2) was built in the middle of the peristyle court at the site of an ornamental pool. The establishment of the first Christian church inside a walled city in the very heart of the pagan Athenian center reveals how the boundaries between the two religions were redrawn by the urban elite. From the late 4th century, the restrictions imposed on pagan cult by Theodosios I (379–95) and the fervor of the newly converted brought about rapid advancement of the Christian faith. Christian belief was not incompatible with traditional cultural values, and civic traditions were incorporated into the new Christian society. The archon, patricius, and senator Theagenes, a renowned member of the imperial elite in the 5th century, was from Athens and claimed to be a descendant of Miltiades and Plato. At Messene in the 5th century, local aristocrats claimed mythical ancestors such as Herakles and the Dioskouroi, and two blocks with inscriptions to the city’s ancient heroes were incorporated into the apse in its Christian basilica in order to give it strength. The Parthenon was converted into a Christian church in the last quarter of the 5th century but maintained its pagan sculptural decoration. Prophecies of the pagan gods were fabricated to justify its conversion and that of

Fig. 3. T  he basilica of Palaiopolis, Kerkyra, 5th century (Photo courtesy of D. Iliopoulos).

a church on the island of Ikaria. But Christianization in Greece was not without confrontation with pagans. A bishop declared his victory over paganism by destroying temples, as recorded in an inscription on the front of the church of Palaiopolis in Kerkyra (fig. 3). The religious and social composition of urban society was gradually changing. Many members of the upper class chose a career in the church that would give them prestige and power. Porphyrios, later bishop of Gaza (395–420), was raised in Thessaloniki by wealthy parents. He decided to dedicate himself to an ascetic life, and he disposed of his fortune and withdrew to the desert, first in Egypt and later in Jordan and Jerusalem, where he became keeper of the True Cross. He is notorious for the destruction of the temple of Zeus Marnas in Gaza (402). In the private sphere, aristocratic houses offer us glimpses of the upper class’s luxurious lifestyle. Aristocrats advertised their power in the formal dining hall (triclinium), which preserved its

classical decoration. Wealthy houses excavated in Athens show the adherence of these aristocrats to classical culture and pagan religion. The House of the Falconer in Argos had the mosaic floor of the triclinium decorated with a classical repertoire, Dionysos with satyrs and maenads, and the porticoes of the courtyard with scenes of hunting, an aristocratic pastime, and personifications of the months. As urban monuments were no longer maintained from the middle of the 6th century, so large aristocratic houses of the Roman domus type were abandoned or subdivided by lower-class residents. Continuity in domestic architecture was broken, and a new, medieval type of aristocratic house emerged during the centuries that followed. Architectural change suggests a profound social change. Indeed, from the 7th century on, Late Antique aristocratic families were no longer attested in the texts, and a new aristocracy of a different social and ethnic origin emerged. Public spectacles in the theaters and the hippodromes—a popular form of entertainment in the Roman Empire sponsored by wealthy citizens, emperors, or governors—had changed as well. From the early 3rd century, only excerpts of tragedies and comedies were performed in theaters, and more popular spectacles consisted of mimes and pantomimes, which in Late Antiquity were associated with circus groups and were also performed in the hippodrome. Strong ideological pressure from the church on religious and moral grounds and the diminished financial resources of the cities brought about the decline of theaters. After the 6th century, in fact, theaters ceased to function altogether. Gladiatorial and animal combats and public executions took place in amphitheaters. In the “theater-stadium” of Thessaloniki during Galerius’s rule (306), the competition between Nestor and Lysaios and the martyrdom of Saint Demetrios occurred. Such executions were outlawed by Constantine in 325 and attacked by the Christians as being cruel. They ceased after the early 5th century. Horse races in the hippodromes of major cities were a Roman tradition. In the imperial capitals the hippodrome was connected with the palace, and the emperors appeared there

Fig. 4. Section of the post-Herulian wall in Athens constructed from spolia, 3rd century (Photo courtesy of Helen Saradi-Mendelovici).

helen saradi-mendelovici


Fig. 5. R  entina (Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism; Velissarios Voutsas).

before the people. In Late Antiquity, the program of the spectacles in the hippodrome was mixed: they included horse races, mimes and pantomimes, dances, music, acrobatic shows, and animal parades. Horse races aroused strong public passion and often caused violent clashes among the partisans of various charioteers. In 390 in the hippodrome of Thessaloniki, people revolted and killed the leader of the Gothic guard who refused to allow a popular charioteer to compete in the horse races. The revolt ended with the slaughter of 7,000 citizens in the hippodrome by the order of Theodosios I. By the end of the 6th century, only the hippodrome of Constantinople continued to function and this only as an appendix to the palace. The Olympic Games associated with pagan religion and traditions were held until 385 and ended officially in 392 in the context of the general ban of paganism by Theodosios I. In Late Antiquity, Greece suffered successive waves of destruction by various enemies. In 267 the Heruli invaded Greece and sacked Athens. In response to this attack, the propylaia of the temple of Eleusis was transformed into a defensive wall, and a new wall was built with materials looted (spolia) from ruined buildings in Athens to protect the central part of the city (fig. 4). In the 4th century, the Visigoths invaded the Roman Empire, and after the battle of Adrianople (378) they settled as foederati in Thrace. In 395, under Alaric, they pillaged Thrace and Illyricum and continued as far as Athens and the cities of the Peloponnese. In the 5th century, the Ostrogoths ravaged areas of Illyricum. The emperors’ response to the waves of invaders was to strengthen the interior of the empire by fortifying the cities with new, shorter walls to protect smaller urban areas, constructing forts on hilltops and strategic positions, defending larger


urban setting

territories with long walls, and sometimes relocating cities to naturally protected areas. Anastasios (491–518) and Justinian built major fortifications all over the empire. But from the middle of the 6th century, the invasions of the Avars and Slavs in the Balkans had long-lasting effects: many cities and towns were destroyed, some were abandoned forever, and some were relocated to mountain peaks, islands, and naturally fortified sites. The social structure and urban planning of the early Byzantine cities was collapsing. The new terminology eloquently suggests the change: the city (polis) became a fortress (kastron). The new poleis-kastra had a prominent military character, in which the primary position was given to the churches, developed in significantly reduced financial resources and survived in dramatically difficult military circumstances. The kastron of Rentina in Macedonia (fig. 5) was built by Justinian to protect the settlement on a hilltop and to control the passage from east Macedonia to the gulf of Thessaloniki. The city of Diokletian­ oupolis was relocated to a promontory of the lake of Kastoria. Hoards buried in a rush by individuals in the expectation that they would return after the barbarians withdrew illustrate the conditions in which Byzantine cities struggled. Only Thessaloniki remained a major political, military, and economic center, but with a new administrative and social structure.

Bibliography Cameron 1976; Spieser 1984; Agora XXIV, 1988; Haldon 1990; Castrén 1994; Avraméa 1997; Bowersock – Brown – Grabar 1999; Brogiolo – Ward-Perkins 1999; Rothaus 2000; Liebeschuetz 2001; Bowden 2003; Lavan – Bowden 2003; Bowden – Gutteridge – Machado 2006; Saradi 2006; Lugaresi 2008; Zavagno 2009.

the transition from paganism to christianity: the numismatic evidence Ioannis P. Touratsoglou As Christianity spread to a wider circle of the populace and gradually to the ruling classes as well, the modus vivendi of thinking Roman citizens was marked by a noteworthy introversion, even though there seems to have been—at least in the large urban centers—quite a lengthy process of adjustment to the new circumstances as long as the old and new models of paganism and monotheism co-existed. Despite the rapid unfolding of political events and the gradual but steady, top-down imposition of the new religion, the iconography stipulated in the sacred canons enacted by the ecumenical councils of the 4th and 5th centuries was put into practice only selectively and in what was initially a relatively limited number of artifacts. On coinage, in particular, changes took place gradually, but from the moment they began to be implemented, they took over the areas that affected the very identity of coins: the iconography, the accompanying inscriptions, and the Christian symbols. Weights and measures were undoubtedly affected by the innovations (one of the first steps taken in the emergent Byzantine world was to inscribe the face value on coins), as were the nomenclature and the reformed system of minting money. As to the iconography of coins, something that had always been characterized by conservatism, attesting as it did to the financial solvency of the issuing authority, there was a distinctive delay in the adoption of Christian subjects, and iconography was not adapted in the same systematic way to the demands of the times as in other forms of art. This was most probably because, as has been observed: “there was at the time no official Christian iconography to draw on.” And it is very likely to have been due to what was in some ways a justifiable hesitancy on this particular subject, given that the coinage served other practical purposes, both on a day-to-day level within the state and at the foreign-policy level abroad. Now the message the Byzantine coin was sending was twofold—on the one hand imperial (i.e., global) and on the other hand Christian (i.e., metaphysical). This is why the iconography of the coins was characterized by an increasingly expressionistic style, which achieved a certain abstraction or at least succeeded in minimizing the realistic elements. The depicted ruler’s bust, or, more rarely, the head, is shown in profile in the early period, in accordance with the norms and tradition of the Greco-Roman world, conveying the individual features of the subject. This technique, used on all metals, would be continued in the small denominations (semissis, tremissis) right up to the 7th century, being evidently the most direct way of informing the public about the identity and physical appearance of their leader. By contrast, busts on the largedenomination coins made of precious metals (i.e., solidi) are depicted frontally or in three-quarter profile, which means that,

except in a few cases where care was taken to depict the individual facial features of a specific ruler (e.g., Herakleios, from 610 on; Constans II, from 663 on; and Leontios from 695 to 698), an impression was created of an overall homogenization in the likenesses of the various emperors. It is a resemblance that recalls the sacred, divine, unchanging nature of God’s representative on earth. This also accounts for the Byzantine emperor being shown in some cases with a halo. As part of the ongoing changes in the understanding of the nature of the iconography associated with coinage, the conversion of the figure of the Nike or Victory into an angel carrying a cruciform staff (very probably the Archangel Michael) from as early as the time of Justinian I adds yet another symbol to the glory of Christian monotheism. The Victory remained in the iconographic repertoire of coins until the 7th century at the latest. To these new symbols would be added the cross, which, as the ultimate triumphal sign, could be accompanied by angels and saints but would also be glorified in a prominent position on the reverse of the solidi of Tiberios II (578–82). In 720 under Leo III this cruciform symbol of faith would be called upon to decorate silver coinage, as well. Regarding the language of the inscriptions on the mainly circular borders surrounding the iconographical scenes, Latin remained the principal form of expression of the imperial will for a considerable period of time—despite the fact that a sizeable proportion of recipients of the coins, owners and users, were

Fig. 1. Silver medallion of Constantine I, 313–15. Staatliche Münzsammlung, Munich, 86 627 (Photo © Die Staatliche Münzsammlung München).

Fig. 2. Copper alloy coin (billon) of Constantine I, 320. Mint: Siscia. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Photo © Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).

ioannis p. touratsoglou


Greek-speaking or of Greek descent. Yet it was not until the reign of Leo III (717–41) that the first Greek inscriptions appeared on silver coins. Of course, this had been preceded by the copper coins (folleis) of Constans II bearing the inscription ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΝΙΚΑ / ΑΝΑΝΕΟΣ (a’μενος or ις; In this conquer! / restored / renewal). At the same time, Latin would continue to be characteristic of the gold currency up to the reign of Michael I (811–13). It should be noted here that the progressive Christian­ ization of the empire went hand in hand with its gradual Hellenization, which can be seen in the administration and, above all, in legal texts. Indeed, it is no coincidence that, as early as the reign of Justinian I, a sizeable part of the legislation, the Novels (new laws), were composed in Greek. With respect to the way coinage was being caught up in the spirit of the new monotheistic world then steadily gaining ground, it should be noted that the first depiction of a Christian symbol (signum) on the coinage was on a Constantinopolitan issue from 327 bearing a depiction of the Christogram ( ), apparently to commemorate the victory of Constantine over Maxentius fifteen years earlier, in 312. This symbol also appeared later on issues from the Antioch (336) and Arelate mints (332). About 320 it was also depicted on issues from the mints at Ticinum, Siscia, Aquileia, and Thessaloniki. According to one view, the occasional or rare depiction of the Christogram “illustrate[s] the choice only of some official or officials, and result[s] from the new atmosphere of official Christianity and the new presence of Christians in the imperial administration.” However, the appropriation of the Christogram by Constantine the Great himself, predating the examples quoted above, is evidenced by its use as a decorative feature on his helmet on the obverse of an imposing silver medallion from Rome, Ticinum, or Aquileia (313 or 315) (fig. 1) and on a copper coin from Siscia (320) (fig. 2), as recorded by Eusebios (Historia Ecclessiastica 3.2). In the same period, the Christogram decorates the shield of Crispus on the coins struck in his name (322) at the Trier mint. A second Christian symbol appeared on the late Roman / early Byzantine issues after the death of Constantine the Great in 337, when that ruler, depicted after the tradition of his pagan predecessors in the process of deification, ascending to heaven, was received by the Almighty, in this case represented synecdochically by the manus dei or Hand of God. In any event, the importance of referring to Christian symbols can be seen by the way they are used for essentially political reasons by those aspiring to power. For this reason, in order to legitimize their position in the leadership and to associate themselves with Constantine I and his family, Magnentius (350–53) issued a coin at the end of his reign with a huge Christogram occupying the obverse in solitary splendor (fig. 3), and Vetranius (350) struck a coin with an image of himself being crowned by a Victory and holding a labarum with a Christogram. This image is surrounded by the inscription “hoc signo victor eris” (in this sign you will be the victor), which recalls another time and other events (fig. 4).


Fig. 3. Bronze nummus of Magnentius, 350–53. Mint: Ambianum (Amiens). The British Museum, London (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

Fig. 4. Copper alloy coin of Vetranius, 350. Mint: Siscia. The British Museum, London (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

The fundamental turning point in the history of the Roman Empire, which distanced it from Roman traditions and age-old beliefs, came in the reign of Theodosios I (379–95). The violent break with paganism, which made redundant the message of religious tolerance enshrined in the Edict of Milan (and the earlier edicts of toleration), contributed to the all-out efforts to promote Christianity as the official religion of the state. And so it is understandable that the future of the Byzantine coinage should belong to the Greek-speaking East and to Christianity: the supremely orthodox environment. Bibliography Bruck 1955; Dodds 1965, 102ff.; Ahrweiler 1975; Age of Spirituality 1979; Noethlichs 1983; Hackens 1984; Burnett 1987; Ellis 1991; Morrisson 1992; Alföldi 1998; Elsner 1998, 225–35; Grierson 1999; Penna 2002, 48–63; Flusin 2004; Nikolaou 2004. Please note that the coins reproduced in this essay appear larger than their actual size.

the transition from paganism to christianity: the numismatic evidence

personal adornment: glory, vainglory, and insecurity Henry Maguire Vanity and Display The love of gold and precious stones has been a constant throughout human history, but it must be true to say that the expression of that desire reached an apogee during Late Antiquity, as the ancient world was giving way to Byzantium. This was a time when not only people but even the buildings that they occupied were festooned with jewels, or with their simulations. The famous mosaics of the 6th-century emperor and empress Justinian and Theodora in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna exemplify the conspicuous parading of precious ornament. In addition to their jeweled crowns, both sovereigns sport spectacular gems on their purple cloaks. The emperor’s chlamys is fastened by a large brooch containing a massive red circular stone set in gold, surrounded by a ring of pearls, and hung with three tear-shaped pendants of mother of pearl (see Elsner, fig. 3). The empress wears an ornate jeweled collar, which is also hung with pearly pendants (see Cameron, fig. 3). Nor is it only the rulers who are decked out in this way. The very columns of the buildings that frame them are studded with pearls and gems. These jeweled columns were not figments of the artists’ imaginations, for actual columns of such a kind have been discovered in the excavations of the early 6th-century church of St. Polyeuktos in Constantinople. These marble columns, which probably originally supported the ciborium, or canopy, over the altar of the church, were richly inlaid with pieces of amethyst, green glass, and gold glass. Looking beyond the fictive architecture in the portraits of Justinian and Theodora, one can see that throughout the mosaics of San Vitale, as in other churches of this epoch, there are borders representing green or blue jewels alternating with pearls against a red ground. In incorporating jewels into their mosaics, the artists at San Vitale practiced a kind of alchemy, in which actual precious materials alternated with imitations. If we look closely at the large tear-shaped drops that hang from the brooch fastening the emperor’s cloak, we can see that they are made of single pieces of mother-of-pearl. But in the case of the empress, the similar pendants that hang from her collar turn out not to be single pieces of shell but, on the contrary, are made up of smaller tesserae of glass or stone. In this case, it was probably not a shortage of the material—mother-of-pearl—that caused the mosaicists to render Theodora’s pendants in tesserae rather than with large pieces of shell. The artists had enough mother-ofpearl to distribute this material lavishly on the columns that flank each of the imperial portraits. It seems that the choice to use mosaic cubes for the collar of the empress was in part aesthetic. This was a display of the depiction one material with another—a tour de force in the artistic conquest of nature. While the substitutions at San Vitale may have been motivated by aesthetic considerations, in other cases the replacement of a rarer

material by a more common one was certainly owing to economic circumstances. For example, during the 4th and 5th centuries, a common type of marriage ring portrayed profile busts of the husband and wife on the bezel, with a small cross above them. A gold ring of this kind, now in the collection at Dumbarton Oaks, is displayed in the exhibition (cat. no. 57). But rings with the same design were also replicated in base metal for those couples who could not afford gold. Likewise, a jeweled collar, such as the one worn by Theodora, could be reproduced inexpensively in the medium of tapestry weave of wool and linen. The neckline of a 5th-century tunic from Egypt, now preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, depicts two different necklaces, one on each side of the opening for the neck. One of the woven necklaces is hung with pendants in the shape of teardrops, like the ones hanging from the collar of the empress in San Vitale. The other fictive necklace portrayed on the tunic has alternating square and circular settings containing jewels, somewhat similar to the design of the real necklace from the collection of the Museum of Cycladic Art, which is now displayed in catalogue number 70. Also in the exhibition is a gold pin, which is topped by a small bird carved out of rock crystal (cat. no. 68). Such bird-headed pins were produced in great quantities in cheaper materials, such as wood, bone, and bronze. Frequently, the bird was fashioned as a rooster with a prominent comb, perhaps a reference to the use of such pins in adorning the hair. Church fathers, such as St. John Chrysostom, were quick to condemn those who adorned themselves with jewelry and who gave themselves elaborate coiffures. In this they followed the precepts of St. Paul: “I desire that . . . women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire, but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion” (I Timothy 2:8–10). The vanity that was condemned by the church may perhaps be exemplified in the many silver mirrors that have survived from Late Antiquity, including the one on show in the exhibition (cat. no. 75). But there was another view of the display of jewelry, which is found in the panegyrics composed by state orators. A wonderful passage in Claudian’s panegyric on the fourth consulate of Honorius, held in 398, praises the consular robe of the boy emperor. The orator describes how “all the youth of Rome and Latium attend your ceremonies,” and how the young men carry the boy emperor on their necks in a golden chair. The description begins with a catalogue of the jewels and metals with which the emperor’s robe is adorned and then marvels at how the weaver’s art creates from these intractable elements a textile that is soft and yielding: Indian stones bead the robe and the costly fine-spun stuff is green with emeralds; amethysts are worked in and the brightness of Spanish gold tempers the blue of the hyacinth with its hidden fires. Nor was the simple beauty of such a web considered enough; embroidery enhances its worth and the work is vivid with pictures traced in metal threads; portraits throng together in a wealth of jasper and the sea-pearl comes to life in many a pattern. What ambitious

henry maguire


distaff was able with the fingers’ art to give softness to materials so hard?  Panegyricus de quarto consulatu Honorii Augusti ll. 577–94; translation by Barr, 1981 Here the display of a wealth of gems in a public setting is a subject of praise; the jewels of his official costume project the virtue and power of the ruler.

Pagan Motifs A major part of the attraction of gold and gems in the world of Late Antiquity was psychological. Beyond their aesthetic value, these incorruptible materials embodied the idea of permanence in an unstable world and a refuge from the insecurity that affected all levels of society. In addition, certain gemstones were reputed to have therapeutic qualities, such as green jasper, which, as the Roman physician Galen confirmed through empirical experiment, benefited the esophagus (De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis II, 19). The quest for health and safety in the midst of danger and instability is also reflected

Fig. 1. G  old ring with bust of Asklepios, 340−400. From Syria. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 67.52.11 (Photo © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Katherine Wetzel).

Fig. 2. G  old ring with Aphrodite, 4th century. From Syria. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 67.52.10 (Photo © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Travis Fullerton).


in the motifs and devices that people incorporated into their jewelry. Although these devices took different forms and had different frames of reference, whether pagan, Christian, or magical, to a large extent they were united in their function, which was to protect the wearer from harm and to ensure his or her health and prosperity. In the following discussion, we will look separately at the motifs that belonged to the pagan, the Christian, and the magical realms, but in practice the three cultures were not completely distinct. It was perfectly possible for Christians to wear designs of pagan derivation, and in magical amulets there was often a free mixture of pagan and Christian elements. A remarkable 4th-century gold ring now in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has the bust of Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine, engraved on its bezel (fig. 1). On the left of the bezel is the god’s attribute, the staff with a snake coiled around it, while on the right is the invocation ΥΓΙΑ, or “health.” The shape of the ring’s hoop, which is octagonal, enhances the prophylactic content of the engravings on the bezel. According to the therapeutic handbook composed by the 6th-century Byzantine doctor Alexander of Tralles, a ring with an eight-sided hoop had the ability to prevent colic (Alexander of Tralles VIII, 2, ed. Puschmann 1878–79). Not infrequently, rings with octagonal hoops bear magical devices on their bezels, such as the Chnoubis, a serpent with a lion’s head that was believed to be effective in preventing pains in the stomach and also problems with the womb. Since marriage rings were often provided with octagonal hoops, it is likely that the eight-sided shape also was associated with healthy childbirth. Another pagan deity who made a frequent appearance on late Roman and early Byzantine jewelry was Aphrodite, who appears engraved on the bezel in a second gold ring preserved in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (fig. 2). The goddess is enthroned and adorned with a chain around her neck, as well as bracelets on her arms, wrists, and ankles. At her feet two naked erotes wrestle with each other, and beside her is an inscription that can be translated as “cessation for those who desire.” In this case, the connotations of Aphrodite concern erotic love, but in other works of art she seems to embody other ideas as well, such as female adornment, or good fortune in general. The connection with female adornment is made explicit by the reliefs on the 4th-century silver marriage casket of Projecta, which was discovered on the Esquiline Hill in Rome (fig. 3). Here the goddess of love appears on the lid, looking into a mirror while she adjusts a strand of her hair, thus precisely replicating the actions of the bride, who is portrayed beneath, on the front of the casket, beautifying herself for her marriage. Since the inscription on the lid of the casket exhorts the married couple, Secundus and Projecta, to “live in Christ,” it is clear that the owner of the box was a Christian. The appearance of the goddess on Projecta’s wedding silver, therefore, is not a sign of her pagan faith, but rather an evocation of both physical love and female beauty. A late 6th- or early 7th-century pendant on a necklace now in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection also portrays Aphrodite. The goddess stands in gold relief against a deep blue shell carved in

personal adornment: glory, vainglory, and insecurity

Fig. 3. Silver wedding casket of Projecta, mid-4th century. Found on the Esquiline Hill, Rome. The British Museum, London (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

lapis lazuli (fig. 4). Her action of wringing water from her hair suggests that she is rising, still wet, from the sea. On account of its date, it is likely that this beautiful piece of jewelry was owned by a Christian woman. A more general connotation of good fortune is suggested by a 5th-century pavement depicting Aphro­ dite, which was found in a bath building at Alassa on the island of Cyprus. In this mosaic the goddess is seen standing beside an Eros, who holds out a mirror so that she can arrange the strands of her hair. The goddess is flanked by an inscription reading ΕΠ ΑΓΑΘΟΙΣ, or “for a good cause.” The same invocation appeared on gold phylacteries, containing charms written on rolled up strips of metal, which were worn suspended on chains around the neck.

Fig. 4. Gold and lapis lazuli necklace with pendant depicting Aphrodite, late 6th or early 7th century. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., BZ.1928.6 (Photo © Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.).

Christian Motifs Several pieces of jewelry in the exhibition take the form of, or are marked with, crosses. More than any other sign, the cross was considered to be explicitly and unambiguously Christian. A motif such as the vine, for example, could be associated either with Christ, who declared “I am the true vine” (John 15:1), or with Dionysos, the pagan god of wine. The same ambiguity characterized many other symbols that were commonly employed in the arts of Late Antiquity, such as a chalice (whose wine did it contain?), or a sheep (was it the ram of Ammon, or a member of Christ’s flock?). Even portrait images could be suspect; it did not escape people’s notice that there was a resemblance between images of the mature Christ and the idols of Zeus, both showing the hair and beard long, with a part at the center of the forehead. The anxieties raised by this resemblance are encapsulated in a story related at the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century by the ecclesiastical historian Theodore Lector and embellished by later writers, such as John of Damascus in the 8th century. According to this legend, a certain pagan who lived in the 5th century commissioned an artist to paint an image of Christ so that he could use it to surreptitiously venerate Zeus. As a result of this misuse of the icon, the hands of the unfortunate artist were withered. But the cross was different; it contained no uncertainty. According to the 6th-century monastic writer Barsanouphios, the devil might show the image of some man as a false portrayal of Christ in a dream, but the devil would not be able

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to show a cross, for “inasmuch as we know the true sign and image of the cross, the devil does not dare to use it (ed. Schoinas 1960).” Crosses were ubiquitous in early Byzantine culture. Not only did they appear on jewelry, but they also adorned people’s clothing, utensils, lamps, furniture, and houses. Crosses appeared in places of commerce and of work, in markets, in quarries, in boats, and on the bodies of beasts of burden. Crosses frequently took over the protective work of the old pagan deities; at quarries such as Aliki on the island of Thasos, for example, they replaced the old images of Herakles. At the entrances of buildings, crosses replaced the pagan gods as guardians. John Chrysostom declared approvingly: “We depict it [the cross] with much zeal both on houses and on walls and windows . . . for this is indeed the sign of our safety (In Matthaeum homilia LIV, 4).” The fish, which is engraved into the bezel of one of the gold rings in the exhibition (cat. no. 62), was one of the oldest symbols in Christian art. Already at the turn of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Clement of Alexandria lists the fish among the motifs that he sanctions for engraving upon signet rings (Paedagogus III, 11). Nevertheless, the fish was one of those motifs whose meanings spilled over from the Christian into the secular and magical realms. In the domestic arts of the household, such as clothing, furnishings, tableware, and floor mosaics, fish often represented the element of water in compositions that evoked ideas of fertility and abundance. In some parts of the Mediterranean fish took on an apotropaic role, defending houses from envy and the baneful influence of the evil eye. In Tunisia, floor mosaics placed at the thresholds of houses depicted an eye being attacked by snakes and by fish, so that the prosperity evoked by the fish was seen to nullify the misfortune brought by the gaze of the envious. To these beneficent connotations of the motif Christianity added an overlay of multivalent, and sometimes contradictory, messages. The fish could represent the Christian soul, swimming in the abyss of mortality, from which he or she will be rescued by Christ and his apostles, the “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Alternatively, the fish could represent the living water of baptism. Or the fish could refer to Christ’s miracles of the loaves and the fish, and thus to the Eucharist. Finally, the Greek word for fish, ΙΧΘΥΣ, was seen as an acronym for the phrase “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.” In spite of the frequent Christian use of the symbol, a certain ambiguity persisted, even in churches. In the early 6th-century mosaics in the narthex of the basilica of Herakleia Lynkestis, for example, there is a remarkable pavement mosaic depicting, in a maplike setting, the earth surrounded by the ocean. The earth is represented by a central rectangle containing a line of trees of different species, while the ocean is portrayed by a surrounding band in which there is a variety of water creatures. Two of the fish in this border are depicted lying one over the other, so that their bodies form the arms of a cross. Here the artist clearly wished to indicate that these fish were not only part of the map, that is, signs of the ocean, but in addition they were to be interpreted as symbols of salvation. In the case of the ring in the exhibition, the addition of three crosses above and below the engraving of the fish clearly indicates its Christian significance.


One of the objects in the exhibition, a silver armband (cat. no. 79), is engraved with two schematic scenes from the New Testament, the raising of Lazarus and the visit of the Maries to the tomb after the resurrection of Christ. These subjects evoke the power of Christ, even over death, but the primary purpose of the images was not to educate the wearer about scripture, nor to be a focus of veneration. Rather, the function of the motifs was to protect the wearer from harm, as is suggested by another scene engraved on the same armband, which shows a rider spearing a demon lying under the hooves of his horse. As we shall see below, this motif, the so-called Holy Rider, was associated with magical power and the averting of evil. In the early Byzantine period, many people also wore Gospel scenes depicted on their clothing. This practice could be found at all levels of society. In the mosaic of Theodora at San Vitale, the empress herself is attired in a splendid cloak of purple silk that has the three Magi embroidered on its hem, holding out the gifts they bring to Christ (see Cameron, fig. 3). The same scene was frequently portrayed on cheaper tapestry-woven tunics of wool and linen, which were worn by those of more modest means. On some tunics, the scene of the Adoration of the Magi was repeated many times over on the same piece of clothing. The repetition of the subject, and the fact that it was often depicted in a highly schematic and all-but-unrecognizable way, indicate that the purpose of this New Testament scene on the tunics was not to provide instruction, nor to receive veneration. If the Gospel episode was intended to instruct, or to be used as an icon, it would have had to be more easily recognizable, and it would not have needed to be repeated. It is more likely that the Magi were invoked on the tunics in a semi-magical way as archetypal wayfarers and pilgrims whose role in the life of Christ was an assurance of protection to all who traveled. The Magi were also emblematic gift-givers, who received favor from God in return. The frankincense that they offered signified the incense that accompanied prayer. In the words of John Chrysostom, the Magi “offer gifts, gifts, that is, not as to a man, but as to God. For the frankincense and myrrh were a symbol of this . . . they approached [Him] not as a mere man, but as God and benefactor” (In Matthaeum homilia VIII, 1). Writing at the end of the 4th century, a Christian bishop, Asterios of Amaseia, said that wealthy Christians of his day wore Gospel subjects, especially Christ’s miracles, woven into their clothing because they felt that garments decorated in such a manner would be “pleasing to God,” and thus attract his favor (Homilia I). In the case of the empress Theodora, there is a political overlay to the significance of the scene. The artists wished to flatter the emperor and empress by making a comparison between their offering a paten and a chalice to Christ, who is shown in the vault of the apse, and the Magi offering their tribute to the newly born Christ Child. But in drawing this comparison, the mosaicists faced a difficulty, because the Magi were three, whereas Justinian and Theodora were only two. They very deftly solved the dilemma by partially concealing the first Magus behind a fold in Theodora’s cloak. Thus we see

personal adornment: glory, vainglory, and insecurity

enough of the first figure to correctly identify the scene, but, for the purposes of the comparison with the emperor and the empress, only two of the Magi are fully visible.

Magical Motifs We have already observed the intermingling of Christian and magical motifs on the silver armband in the exhibition. The display also includes an object that is primarily magical in its imagery, a two-sided amulet of the 5th or 6th century that portrays a Holy Rider on one side and the evil eye under attack on the other (cat. no. 76). The Holy Rider was a frequent subject on magical amulets, but he also appeared in other media, such as stone carvings (cat. no. 78) and wall paintings. The victorious horseman was a character who assumed various guises. He could appear as the Thracian rider-god Heron or as the Egyptian god Horus, who was shown on horseback spearing a crocodile, in a manner reminiscent of later Christian portrayals of St. George and the dragon. He could also be the emperor, as on 2nd-century Roman coins that show the mounted emperor lancing a prostrate enemy. On some 5th- and 6th-century Byzantine coins, the emperor carries a shield on which is portrayed a horseman spearing a recumbent enemy, proving that the device was able to protect both an individual ruler and his whole empire from harm. On amulets from the private sphere, the rider is often labeled as Solomon, who reputedly held power over the demons. On some of the charms, the rider spears a bare-breasted woman, who may be identified as Alabasdria, or Abyzou. According to a popular magical treatise, the Testament of Solomon, this demon killed infants during childbirth. Other amulets identify the rider as St. Sisinnios, who, in one medieval legend, captured the demon Gyllou and forced her to bring back to life his sister’s seven babies, whom the demon had killed. Sisinnios also made the demon reveal her twelve and a half names, which included Abyzou and Myia, or “fly.” Flies were associated with demons in the popular imagination, an association that we might find reasonable today, given their role in the spread of infection. Knowledge of the names of the demons, and of the troubles in which they specialized, was an important step toward their control. The Testament of Solomon tells how the king summoned thirty-six demons before him in turn, forcing them to reveal their names as well as the specific spells or devices that blocked their activities. The thirty-fifth of these demons stated that his name was Rhyx Phthenoth, explaining that “I cast the glance of evil at every man. My power is annulled by the engraved image of the much-suffering eye (ed. McCown 1922).” This is the device that is shown on the other side of the amulet with the Holy Rider in the exhibition. The eye appears in the center, being attacked by daggers and spears above and by noxious animals such as lions and long-beaked birds below. As we have seen, the motif of the evil eye was also employed as a protective device in other media, such as floor mosaics set at thresholds. In conclusion, the motifs found on jewelry and apparel in the late Roman and early Byzantine period reveal a completely different world from those on display in churches. In the

domestic realm there was an intermingling of pagan, Christian, and magical elements at all levels of society, with an emphasis on the preservation of prosperity and protection from harm. In the decoration of churches, on the other hand, most of the overtly magical and pagan elements were excluded. At the same time, however, the adornment of churches shared with the domestic artifacts a desire for gold and precious stones. In the world of Late Antiquity, despite the strictures of moralists, homes, palaces, and churches all displayed a common material splendor. Bibliography Puschmann 1878–79, vol. 2, 377; Wroth 1908, pls. 1–19; McCown 1922, 58*; Perdrizet 1922, 25–32, figs. 7–11; Schoinas 1960, 214; Barr 1981, 63–65; Shelton 1981, 31–32, pl. 11; Dunbabin – Dickie 1983, 7–37; Vikan 1984, 65–86, esp. 76–83, fig. 13; Elbern 1986, 67–73, pl. 17; Mango 1986, 212–15; Maguire 1987, 40, fig. 48; Dauterman Maguire – Maguire – Duncan-Flowers 1989, 18–23, 25–28, 161, no. 83, 189, no. 111, 193, no. 117; Harrison 1989, 78, figs. 82, 83, 94; Maguire 1990, 215–24, 220, 221, fig. 29; Vikan 1990, 145–63, esp. 160–61, fig. 26; Vikan 1990b, 97–107, Vikan 1991/92, 33–51, esp. 40, n. 11, fig. 4; Michaelides 1992, 93, fig. 51; Bruhn 1993, 33–34, fig. 28; Maguire 1993, 131–60, esp. 147–48; Gonosová – Kondoleon 1994, 36–37, no. 3, 40–43, no. 5; Maguire 1995, 51–71; Martin – Fradier 2000, 50, 86; Walker 2002, 59–78; Ross 2005, 18–19, no. 12, pl. C; Marinis 2007, 95–109; Spieser 2007, 57–76, esp. 73–74; Terry – Maguire 2007, figs. 137–39, 155, 157–58.

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death and rebirth Aristotelis Mentzos Reverence for martyrs is one of the foundation stones of the Christian church community. Martyrs are Christian heroes. Contrary to some late 19th-century theories, which interpreted the veneration of martyrs as a survival of pagan hero or ancestor worship, more recent research has distinguished between the way Christian martyrs were honored and pagan notions of hero worship. An important difference between the heroes of pagan cults and the Christian martyrs is that the former were recognized only within the context of the family or the population group to which they belonged, whereas the martyrs are recognized throughout the whole Christian community all over the world. Nevertheless, if we see the totality of believers as constituting a family whose members are connected to one another in brotherhood, then the veneration martyrs receive continues to have a private aspect, although its impact is much more widespread than that of the pagan cult of heroes. The second and more important issue is that the honoring of heroes simply reinforces the individual’s self-consciousness and the sense of belonging to a social group. Heroes only have the power they derive from their actions. By contrast, the honor paid to martyrs establishes a direct channel of communication between the believer and God, because the martyrs, by witnessing to their faith in God, are in touch with Him and can intercede for the faithful. Ancient prohibitions aside, the distinction no longer exists between public and private regarding the honor due the Christian dead; the worship of God, Jesus Christ, meaning the celebration of the Eucharist, can take place at a burial place, in this case the martyr’s tomb. Evidence for this custom goes back a long way and is found as early as in the Book of Revelation 6:9: “When he broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for God’s word and for the testimony they bore.”

Tombs and Cemeteries The historical commemoration of martyrs is based primarily on the identification of the site of their martyrdom or their burial, which is a sacred place, or locus sanctus, and secondly on the accounts of the martyrdom (martyria), in which the records of the martyrs’ trials take pride of place. Officially the memory of the martyrs is kept alive by the preservation and recitation of relevant texts on their feast day (the anniversary of their martyrdom or death) or on the anniversaries of events connected with their lives and re-enacted in funerary rituals at the burial sites, with such rites as reading the texts of the martyrion, prayers at funerary feasts, libations, and celebration of the Eucharist. After the Peace of the Church was established in 313, the veneration of martyrs developed into one of the main focuses of the Church’s social and political organization, on a par with the hub of official worship within the city, the cathedral. Bit by bit, the marketplaces, baths, and gymnasia of the cities were abandoned as socio-political centers in favor of the cathedral,


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just as the pagan temples on the outskirts of the city were abandoned and in their stead arose shrines to the martyrs (also martyria) in the Christian cemeteries outside the walls. The importance of Christian cemeteries lies in their role as the loci of the martyrs and in the honor and veneration offered to them. The concentration of graves around the tombs of the martyrs, the burials ad sanctos, is based on the conviction that the bodies of the martyrs possess sanctifying powers as a result of their death in martyrdom. In the second half of the 4th century, St. Gregory of Nyssa allowed some of the relics of the Forty Martyrs to be placed in the tomb of his ancestors “so that when the [day of] Resurrection comes, they may arise with the assistance of these intercessors.” St. John Chrysostom believed that even the tombs of the martyrs had sanctifying power: “not only the bodies but also the graves of the martyrs are very powerful. . . .” And this power is unaffected, whether the sanctifying relic is intact or not: “they did not cast off that [power] which they had, but after being cut in two and sliced in pieces many times, the force fragmented into something better and stronger.” It is difficult to distinguish between martyrs and simple believers among the early Christian dead. In the euphoric climate of the first Christian centuries, the first Christians to die were considered worthy of honor. Local traditions were strong and autonomous in the 4th century: after the legitimization of the church, the cemeteries belonging to the church community in each town became the focus for the giving of honor and veneration to local martyrs. The celebration of the Eucharist over the tombs had its beginnings in the early version of this rite as a communal supper and is linked with the practice of celebrating a commemorative meal in memory of the dead, the refrigerium. On the cover slabs of the tombs of martyrs or of prominent Christians, who were in any event the objects of honor and veneration, can be seen libation holes for the pouring of liquid offerings connected with the eucharistic feasts. This is attested in monuments such as the grave slab of Bishop Klematios (fig. 1) from the cemetery of a basilica in the district of Lykabettos in Athens; in the cover slab from the enkainion of St. Demetrios, patron saint of Thessa­loniki,

Fig. 1. Covering slab from the tomb of Klematios, bishop of Athens, 6th century. Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, BXM 410 (Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens; Christos Galazios).

which actually comes from an earlier tomb monument; and in the grave slab of Bishop Eustathios in the funerary basilica of the martyr Kodratos in Corinth. Evidence for the celebration of feasts is found in the frequent presence of a table, whether built in the conventional marble form or of masonry in the shape of an altar on top of a platform spread over the tomb. The space above the tomb is usually furnished with portable wooden or permanent stibadia, built-in couches (fig. 2) for use at funerary feasts. The arrangement of the space also recalls those funerary feasts when an open-air triclinium (dining room) is fashioned above a tomb or tombs with masonry benches in the form of the Greek letter Π. In these cases there is usually an apse or arched niche opposite the entrance, for ritual use. More complicated constructions such as tribunes were made up of walls lined with masonry benches. Along the short sides there could be wooden columns supporting architraves on which offerings of flowers and fruits were hung.

cruciform martyrion of St. Babylas in Antioch. A subsidiary element in the honoring of the dead martyrs was water. Funerary rituals required the plentiful use of water, and wells were a simple solution. Wherever possible the water came from the water-supply network of the city and was stored in water towers (castella aquae)—larger ones in major urban centers such as Thessaloniki or smaller ones, such as the cistern next to the north aisle of the funerary basilica in Dion, south Macedonia. The funerary church or the church of the martyr thus honored was at the heart of the veneration of the Christian dead. In Illyricum, i. e., the Balkan peninsula, these churches are usually basilica-style buildings with a narthex and atrium, which emerged in the second half of the 4th century. They are built in the original nucleus of the cemetery, above tombs that are left undisturbed wherever possible, whereas later tombs are placed inside and around the exterior walls of the building. The ban on placing the dead in urban churches did not apply to funerary

Fig. 2. Pair of built stibadia (dining couches), 5th century. Sabratha, Libya (Photo courtesy of Antonino di Vita).

The above-ground structure could also be an enclosed hypostyle in a shape influenced by pagan tradition, which connects the subterranean tomb of the hero with the groundlevel ritual space, as seen on a monumental scale in the Heroon of Kalydon. Similar structures were set up in the same period above the tombs of the martyrs in the Roman catacombs. The oldest structure over the tomb of St. John in Ephesus belongs to this group of monuments, as does the ground-level martyrionheroon above the tomb in the southeastern cemetery at Philippi and the aedicule (little house) attested in the sources as built over the burial spot of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki. These struc­tures are clearly centers of veneration, based on the evidence of tradition or archaeological finds, and come under the category of martyria in the form of canopy or baldachin. A. Grabar includes in this group also the rectangular central part of the

churches. The burial of the dead follows certain rules: the use of the nave is avoided, especially of its east end, which is close to the sanctuary, and in particular the sanctuary itself. Proximity to the sanctuary is determined by the ecclesiastical rank and prestige of the deceased: “Post mortem meruit in Petri limina sancta iacere” (after death he deserved to lie within the sacred space of [St.] Peter). Graves were mostly dug in the atrium, the most suitable place for burials, or in independent chambers, spaces that communicate with the outdoor space, often purposebuilt for burials. In this respect, the two cemetery basilicas of Corinth and the extra muros basilica at Philippi are typical. It is not always possible to identify the tomb that as an object of veneration was at the heart of the cult. In some cases, such as the Ilissos basilica in Athens, the basilica on Tritis Septembriou Street in Thessaloniki, or the single-nave basilica at

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Ivanjane in Bulgaria, it can be detected, whereas elsewhere, such as the two cemetery basilicas in Corinth, it cannot. It is also possible that a funerary church is established above a nucleus of earlier Christian burials in the absence of any specific venerated martyr’s tomb, such as the cemetery basilica of Dion. Typologically, funerary churches are not very different from the usual parish churches. Apart from their placement (the fact that they are located outside town boundaries and the burials accompanying them), another distinguishing feature is the multitude of adjacent structures and auxiliary spaces that funerary churches have.

Martyria In the period immediately after the Peace of the Church, the 4th to 5th century, the extra muros martyria flourished. The church, in accordance with the Roman model—Rome naturally setting the example for other communities—celebrated rites in the extramural martyria on the feast days of local saints. Christian martyria might be located inside the city or outside it. Funerary martyria were not exclusively linked with martyrs in the narrow sense of the word, i.e., believers who had sacrificed their lives in the name of their faith. Distinguishing a venerated tomb from a simple Christian one is not always easy. The epigraphic or historical data or, where these are lacking, the architectural layout, based on their use as sites of pilgrimage, are important elements in making this distinction. This happens when a martyr is recognized as “owning” these tombs and they end up as shrines. Then they are surrounded by precincts with spaces for particular purposes and other devotional buildings are constructed next to them, as happened at the basilica of Paulinus in Nola or in the expansion of the triconch church in Antigoneia (modern Albania), or they may be reorganized so that the liturgical space available is extended, as in the conversion of a funerary aedicula into a triconch church in Gortyna, Crete.

the setting up of altars or martyria in the names of martyrs by individuals without the presence of either a bodily relic or some other object securely linked with a martyr, or without some local connection to an event related to a martyr. This restrictive ruling only applies to martyria and not to “parish” churches, or churches of the local community. At the same time composing general martyrologies (lists of martyrs according to their feast days), entailed expurgating local traditions and registering genuine martyrs in an official church tradition. These developments led on the one hand to local martyrs being forgotten and on the other to a general opening-up of the veneration of the “official” martyrs to the whole of Christendom. As a direct consequence of this, the custom of translating the relics of known martyrs (translatio) spread (fig. 3). This custom began in the Late Antique period but intensified in the Middle Ages. The martyria in extramural cemeteries or in the suburbs are usually single-aisle churches, either isolated or with later additions of lateral aisles, as at the basilica at Panorama in Thessaloniki; they can also be three-aisled basilicas or buildings of central plan: cruciform, triconch, or circular. One group of martyrial basilicas, indigenous to Macedonia, had a circular ambulatory at a lower level, which runs round the inside of the semicircular wall of the apse, to the east of the synthronon, the semicircular construction of sitting benches for the clergy. This arrangement, which seems to have appeared first in Thessaloniki and from there spread to the rest of Illyricum, probably had its origins in Rome. There was a more or less similar ambulatory in the basilica of St. Peter’s; an even closer parallel was created in the Lateran Basilica in the time of Pope Leo the Great (440–61). Later this arrangement was also adapted to other Roman basilicas. The use of this ambulatory has a clear connection with the cult of a martyr, although in some cases, such as the supposed ambulatory around the apse of the earlier church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, this relation is problematic.

Fig. 3. Ivory relief of a reliquary procession, early 5th century. From Constantinople (?). Cathedral Treasury, Trier, Germany (Photo © Foto Marburg / Art Resource, NY).

An attempt was made by the official church to control the veneration of martyrs in the Local Council of Carthage in 419, Canon XIV: “De basilicis que sine martyrum reliquiis dedicatae sunt” (In the Eastern Church tradition, this is Canon 83: “On the fraudulent monuments to the martyrs”). The ruling discourages


death and rebirth

Christian martyria were also inspired by the architectural types of Roman mausolea, in which case they can be either cruciform or centrally planned. Cruciform martyria have their origins in cellae trichorae, apsed funerary buildings laid out on a clover-leaf plan; they are usually of limited size, and are attached

to churches so that the burials can be ad sanctos. In this case, the arms of the cross are used for burials. The best-known monument of this type is the so-called mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna. In Thessaloniki we know of a similar martyrion attached to the martyr’s basilica on Tritis Septembriou Street. We also know of another, very close to the extra muros basilica in the eastern cemetery at Philippi. In Bulgaria there is a cruciform martyrion in the old town of Tirnovo [Tsarevets], another in Botevo near Vidin, and a subterranean cruciform martyrion attached to the martyr’s church in Voden near Bolyarovo. Centrally planned cemetery martyria usually have simple plans; they are not double-shelled like urban martyria, where the celebration of the Eucharist, which demands an articulated space, plays a bigger role. The centrally planned, single-cell polylobed cemetery martyria are monumental structures that were not necessarily built to honor martyrs. The criterion by which one can judge whether they belong in the category of shrines or are simple mausolea for noble families is the number and layout of the graves they contain, as well as the existence of annexes for funerary or liturgical purposes. Martyria that imitate banquet halls constitute an interesting architectural category. On the one hand, they are centrally planned, typically polylobed mausolea, such as the five-niche martyrion in the western cemetery of Thessaloniki, another with six niches in Philippopolis (Plovdiv) in Bulgaria, and the octagon in Patras. Or they may be halls that imitate the somewhat later oblong triclinia with lateral exedras for sitting benches, the accubita, such as the mausoleum known as St. Gereon’s in Cologne, another in Pec´ (Hungary), and yet another in Hagioi Saranda of Old Epiros / Epirus Vetus (Sarandë) in southern Albania (fig. 4). In general, the buildings that copy banqueting halls have a symbolic character, as they are inspired by the notion of paradise as a heavenly banquet.

Fig. 4. M  artyrion of Hagioi Saranda (Sarandë), 4th–5th century (Architectural plan courtesy of Slobodan C´urcˇic´).

The martyria that imitate triconch triclinia belong to the same category. The triconch is a widespread type of triclinium, the most common after the apsidal, rectangular chamber, once the stibadium (cushioned day-bed) had prevailed over the couch as dining furniture. This type of “banqueting hall” was also used for burials of prominent members of the Christian community, as the place for hosting the dead, alluding to paradise as the place of heavenly feasting. In the imitation of the triclinium in its simplest form, the layout takes the form of a triconch, exemplified by the triconch martyrium in Akrini, Kozani. This shape may also appear as the result of a conversion: a pagan funerary heroon in Losenetz, Bulgaria, was transformed into a triconch martyrium by the addition of lateral exedras on either side of the rectangle, following the pattern of the eastern exedra of the original construction. In other cases, once the building has been extended, the body of a single-aisle basilica is added to the triconch, which then serves as an apse, such as the Virgin Drosiani in Naxos. Or a three-aisled basilica can be added to the original triconch, as in the cases of the basilica of St. Gabriel on the island of Kos, the basilica at Knossos in Crete, and that of St. Lot on Mount Nebo, in Jordan. Buildings of urban martyria have as a rule sizes corresponding to the size of the city; to a large extent they are structures to flaunt the prestige of that city. In Thessaloniki a massive, centrally planned ecclesiastic building near the west wall, between the Letaia and Golden Gates has been tentatively identified as the martyrion of St. Nestor, companion to St. Demetrios, the city’s patron saint. It has not been possible to ascertain the exact shape of the building, as it has been only partially uncovered in excavations on construction sites in the area. However, central planning is not the norm in a martyrion, nor does it necessarily indicate a more important martyr in relation to simpler, basilican buildings: important urban martyria, such as that of St. Demetrios in Thessaloniki, St. Leonidas at Lechaion (Corinth), and St. Achilleios in Larisa, are in fact basilicas. The first two were five-aisled basilicas that were provided with a special liturgical arrangement of the east end in the form of a transept, as is the case of the Lechaion basilica, or with something similar to a transept, as at St. Demetrios. During the Late Antique period, architecturally important, centrally planned martyria were erected in almost all the large cities of Illyricum, as well as in some smaller ones. The tetraconch of the Library of Hadrian in Athens must have functioned as a martyrion, whether it had a Christian character from the start or only after it was converted to Christian use. Other such martyria include the rotunda of the Archangel Michael in Kissamos on Crete; the round martyrion of St. John on Kos; the round martyrion in Konjuh, the tetraconch in Ohrid, both in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; the round or hexagonal church in Amphipolis; and the Octagon of St. Paul at Philippi. Some large urban basilicas were equally important martyria, some of them with five aisles, and almost all of them characterized by the development of the east end into a transept, as is the case of the urban basilicas in Nikopolis and also the basilicas at Dodona, Klauseion, Lechaion, Epidauros, and Sparta.

aristotelis mentzos


Until the early years of Constantine’s reign, the custom of visiting and venerating the shrines of martyrs was limited to the immediate environs of the corresponding Christian communities. But from the second third of the 4th century, with the encouragement and practical backing of the imperial family, pilgrimages developed to the places where Christ had lived and suffered and which had been home to John the Baptist and the Apostles. Later on, sites associated with the life of the Virgin also developed into places of pilgrimage, with an intensity that established her status in the spiritual hierarchy as second only to Jesus Christ himself. This form of spiritual exercise, the pilgrimage to the loca sancta, gave a “global” dimension to the believers’ travels and to the notion of pilgrimage as an act of religious piety and spiritual benefit. The distribution to pilgrims of souvenirs of their pilgrimage, the so-called eulogiae, or blessings, helped to spread this custom. The fame of the great “international” (by the standards of the day) martyria was increased by the descriptions composed by the pious pilgrims who visited them and by the accounts of the miracles the venerated martyrs performed. The literature describing the places and the miracles contributed a great deal to disseminating the fame of the martyrs and their shrines and boosted the pilgrim traffic. The distribution of mementos of their pilgrimage, or eulogiae (cat. no. 13), to the pilgrims, first adopted by the shrines of the loca sancta, also helped to spread the martyrs’ reputation.

The Evolution of Funerary Monuments and Martyria at the End of the Late Antique Period Toward the end of the Late Antique period, from the late 6th into the 7th century, and in the following centuries, Christian cemeteries situated at a distance from the city walls were on the decline, whereas the re-use of graves, shared graves, and disinterment were the order of the day in cemeteries near the city walls. At the same time, the out-of-town martyria fell into decline, and religious devotion began to be concentrated in the city. This development coincides with the spread of burials in the cities, starting with public areas which had in the meantime lost their original use, such as marketplaces, baths, and theaters, and also around or inside urban churches. The concentration of the veneration of the martyrs in the cities coincided with, though was not directly linked to, the decline of suburban cemeteries and the “entry of the dead” into the cities themselves. The traditional explanation of the phenomenon as the consequence of the insecurity caused by barbarian raids has long ago been rebutted by E. Dyggve. On the contrary, it seems that this phenomenon was part of a more general social breakdown, which began toward the end of the Late Antique period and continued into the early Middle Ages, a phenomenon that is also expressed through the abandonment of the countryside and the agglomeration of the population in the cities. These great social and demographic changes in the Mediterranean region also affected the functioning of the martyria in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.


death and rebirth

Religious buildings in this period combine the characteristics of the parish church and the martyrion; in other words, they hold both the regular communion services and celebrate the cult of the martyr. This tendency is summarized in the seventh Canon of the Second Council of Nicaea (787), which ordains that any churches founded without martyrs’ relics should honor the depositing of relics with the appropriate prayers. Martyria are now centers of a “globalized” cult with a mainly curative function. A prerequisite for the survival of a saint’s cult is the survival of the community from which it sprang or which created it. The picture given by Clive Foss of the development of shrines in Asia Minor is typical. In places where the memory of a highprofile martyr is venerated, special buildings are set up to receive the devout suppliants: hostels, kitchens, dining halls (refectories), and even baths, as was probably the case of the bath adjoining the Octagon of St. Paul in Philippi. This period, which saw Christianity triumphant and at the height of its success, also saw the development of the liturgical typikon, a written set of officiation rules, which relates to the veneration of popular martyrs in cities. It detailed the celebration of litanies and stational liturgies in the martyrs’ churches on their feast day, as well as of stational rituals reconstructing their martyrdoms. The roots of this liturgical typikon are to be found in the loca sancta of the Holy Land, particularly in Jerusalem itself. We know that this practice had also developed in Rome and in Constantinople, as emerges from the Liber Pontificalis for Rome and the De Cerimoniis aulae byzantinae for Constantinople, particularly in relation to the shrines in the latter city dedicated to the Virgin at Chalkoprateia and at Blachernai. The same may have happened at Philippi in relation to the cult of the Apostle Paul and in Thessaloniki during the feast of St. Demetrios. It is possible that this arrangement may explain the density of large churches within cities, as at Caricˇin Grad (Justiniana Prima?), Amphipolis, Nikopolis, and Thessalian Thebes (Nea Anchialos), as well as in smaller towns, such as Syia on Crete with its three basilicas. This concentration of large churches built closely to one other within the city walls is difficult to explain in terms of meeting the regular devotional needs of their populations, but this could be explained if we accept that they also provided for the veneration of popular martyrs and the requirements of their corresponding cults. Bibliography Alivizatos 1923; Sotiriou 1929; Dyggve – Poulsen – Rhomaios 1934; Grabar 1946; Sotiriou – Sotiriou 1952; Stikas 1961; Duval – Cintas 1976; Dagron 1978; Dumeige 1978; Reekmans 1978 ; Brown 1981; Vryonis 1981; Krautheimer 1983; Duval 1984; Snively 1984; Mentzos 1985; Krautheimer – C´urcˇic´ 1986; Marki 1988; Geary 1991; Deichmann 1993; Jolivet-Lévy – Kaplan – Sodini 1993; De Blaauw 1994; Mentzos 1994; Bosphorus 1995; Bowersock 1995; Mango – Dagron 1995; Pennas 1995; Christie – Loseby 1996; Mentzos 1996; Cantino Wattaghin 1999; Laskaris 2000; Varalis 2001; Foss 2002; Marki 2002; Talbot 2002; Mentzos 2005; Doncheva 2006; Marki 2006; Minchev – Jotov 2006; Spera 2006; Di Vita 2008; Maraval 2008; C´urcˇic´ 2010.

christian worship Kimberly Bowes Church: From Private Home to House of God When in 313 the emperor Constantine declared his support for the Christian religion, he was taking a risk. An earlier generation of church scholars had supposed that in the three hundred years since the death of Christ, his followers had managed to expand to the point that Constantine’s declaration of support was simply a recognition of the inevitable—Christian triumph by sheer force of numbers. Recent work suggests a more complex reality. Christianity was very slow to get going: by about 200, perhaps as many as 200,000 Christians existed on the earth. Even by maximum estimates of expansion, Christian populations in the early years of the 4th century probably totaled only about 6 million, perhaps as much as 10 percent of the Roman population. That 10 percent was unequally distributed: in cities, particularly Rome and the big cities of the eastern empire, and among the poorer and, above all, more middling classes— merchants, lower-level bureaucrats, soldiers, and their wives— who aspired to rank and prosperity. Christianity had more limited progress among the senatorial elite and in vast expanses of the countryside where about 90 percent of Romans lived out their lives as poor farmers. By 313, in other words, Christianity had a notable presence among urbanites climbing the social ladder, but among both old aristocratic elite and the rural majority the new religion was a vague form on a distant horizon. Constantine’s support of Christianity in 313 was no capitulation to an inevitable surge of Christians, but rather a gamble, not only on a faith but also on a class of people on the move. This somewhat more sober view of Christian expansion and, above all, of Christian demographics is important to understanding the art and archaeology of the earliest Christian worship. Both the Gospels and the letters of Paul make explicit the fact that the earliest Christian groups, beginning with Christ himself, met in private homes. Here they prayed together, initiated new members into their group through the rite of baptism, and shared a meal, one moment of which would be formalized into the Eucharistic rite of bread and wine. The choice of house for worship space was not an unusual one, nor was it necessarily motivated by fear of persecution from the authorities. Ancient houses were not refuges from work and public life as they are today, but they served any number of other functions, as places for politicking, for negotiating business deals, and for religious worship, both within the family and for extra-family groups. The myriad of religious groups that populated the Roman Empire—Jews, devotees of Mithras, worshipers of Dionysos, and others—often met in homes. The earliest Christian groups were no different, and the home was the principal space for Christian worship until the time of Constantine and probably beyond. By the 3rd century, major cities such as Rome and Alexandria may have had several hundred Christians who seem to have organized themselves around specific household meeting spaces.

Archaeologists have applied the term domus ecclesiae (house of the church) to these domestic meeting places, and they have labored for over a century to locate them. Despite intensive excavation focused particularly in Rome and the Holy Land, only one certain example of a pre-Constantinian Christian meeting house has been found, located in the garrison town of Dura Europos on the empire’s Syrian frontier (fig. 1). The Dura Europos Christian meeting house was originally simply a two-story house typical of the region, organized around a central courtyard. At some point about 241, the rooms on the ground

Fig. 1. Reconstruction of the Dura Europos House Church (From White 1990 [Building Gods’ House in the Roman World], fig. 18).

floor were remodeled; on one side two rooms were joined to form a rectangular hall with a raised dais on the eastern end, and on the opposite side of the courtyard, a smaller chamber was outfitted with a small niche into which was built a basin and the walls covered with a fresco depicting Jesus’ miracles, such as the Healing of the Paralytic, and the approach of the Three Mary’s to Christ’s empty tomb, along with Old Testament prefigurations such as David and Goliath. Its hall seems to have been a meeting room for readings, prayers, and perhaps a Eucharistic service, although no permanent altar was found, while the other room served as a baptistery to initiate new converts. The spectacular finds at Dura Europos, now housed in the Yale University Art Gallery, remain unique. No other identifiable Christian meeting house from the first three centuries of Christianity has been located. Two possible explanations suggest themselves. The first is that such meeting houses remain to be discovered or were destroyed by the later monumental churches built atop them in subsequent centuries. It is more likely, however,

kimberly bowes


that the earliest Christians did not modify their houses in any way that can be archaeologically identifiable as Christian. That is, Christians probably met, prayed, and shared Eucharistic meals in their homes without creating specialized spaces or specialized furniture for these activities. Why they didn’t remains unclear: fear of persecution is possible, but the single example of the Dura Europos house church, which lies on an important street and underwent major and certainly public modifications, suggests that the reason may be related to the fact that Christians were simply not very numerous until the middle years of the third century, indeed, the moment when the Dura house church was built. Few Christians would have produced few worship spaces, spaces that, given the small size of many communities, may simply not have required specialized equipment. Constantine’s support for the Christian religion caused radical changes in the space devoted to Christian worship. These changes should be understood not necessarily as an attempt to meet the needs of huge numbers of Christians, but rather to make a rhetorical statement about the importance of the Christian faith. In 310 Christians seemed to have had only a few identifiably “Christian” buildings, and these were ad hoc in

Constantine pushed Christianity onto the public urban stage. Many of these new churches adopted the basilica form (fig. 2). This form was not invented by Christians or by Constantine but had been used for centuries in Roman judicial and public buildings. A long rectangular space was divided into a central nave and lateral aisles by columns, atop which sprang arches or, more rarely, a flat architrave. Atop the columns, finely carved capitals modified the traditional Corinthian order to embed crosses and other Christian imagery among their foliage, while a new architectural member—a trapezoidal stone called an impost block—evolved to bridge the transition from column capital to arch. The impost block became a showcase for sculptural virtuosity; like the example from Hypati in central Greece (cat. no. 98), these blocks not only contained Christian imagery such as the Four Rivers of Paradise, but they would also eventually be permeated by a web of foliage so deeply undercut as to make the block itself seem weightless and the arches and walls above supported by God’s miraculous hand alone. Some of Constantine’s churches borrowed from different Roman traditions and started a parallel trend in church building, one that would be particularly influential in the eastern

Fig. 2. Interior of the church of Santa Sabina, Rome, early 5th century (Photo © Scala / Art Resource, NY; Luciano Romano Grafiluce).

nature—remodeled from houses, baths, and other structures— and with minimal specialized furnishings. By 320 major Christian centers, including Rome, Jerusalem, and Antioch, had new, large-scale structures that shouted out their Christian affiliation and proclaimed the emperor’s favor for his adopted religion in their fine sculpture, brilliant interior paintings, and glowing lamps. In giving Christians their first real, monumental worship spaces,


christian worship

Mediterranean: centrally planned buildings. Borrowed from the circular or polygonal architecture of baths and tombs, church designs like the Golden Octagon in Antioch or the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (fig. 3) were round or octagonal rather than rectangular. These centrally planned structures might have columns marking out an enveloping gallery or ambulatory from the center, or they might remain

Fig. 3. R  econstructed plan of Constantine’s church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (From Krautheimer 1986 [Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture], fig. 27B).

undivided, soaring from pavement to their covering domes. Just as new, clearly Christian churches provided the Christian faithful with their first monumental architecture, the furnishings of those churches announced with sculptural fanfare the special qualities of Christian worship. The new churches, whether basilican or centrally planned, had a marked-out sanctuary,

typically opposite the main door and thus the immediate focus of action and attention (fig. 4). The axially oriented line of columns that marked out the nave culminated in the sanctuary, where chancel screens marked its boundaries (cf. cat. no. 101). The screens separated the faithful from the altar (cat. no. 105), itself also often covered with sculpture. The cross—the symbol of the Christian faith—was everywhere here, not only marking this part of the building as the holiest of holies, but also broadcasting to a still not-quite-fully Christian world the triumph of the church. Similarly triumphalist was the decoration on the ambo, a raised platform for the reading of the Gospels and the giving of sermons typically placed part way down the nave. Tiny elevated platforms, sometimes with their own canopies, ambos were like a church within a church, proclaiming the power of the Christian histories read from within them, as well as the power of the Christian bishops who might mount their stairs. On the ambo from the church of Hagios Demetrios at Nea Anchialos in Central Greece (cat. nos. 99, 100), intricate foliage, deeply undercut so that it seems to have sprung miraculously from the marble, has been wrapped around a structure whose base bore the repeated images of the cross. The Gospel messages and sermons read above were thus stamped with the image of the faith triumphant and surrounded by verdant nature, likewise brought about by the power of the faith. The sculpture and other imagery that covered the interior of the new Christian churches was no mere decoration. It marked the arrival and proclaimed the triumph of a faith whose success, even in the age of Constantine, was by no means certain and whose precarious beginnings and unlikely victory were constantly recalled to Christians’ minds through the image of the cross. Constantine’s support did not mean overnight conversion of the remainder of the empire’s population; that would take the better part of two centuries. What Constantine gave the Christian faith was in some senses just as powerful—a monumental, blatantly Christian architecture that not only housed Christian communities but also proclaimed their belonging.

Fig. 4. Reconstruction of the sanctuary area of Hagia Euphemia, Constantinople (From Mathews 1971 [The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy], fig. 32).

kimberly bowes


The Liturgy The Christian liturgy developed slowly, beginning with shared meals and prayers once a week held in private houses and ultimately culminating with what we term today the liturgy of the mass, which in major cities may be held every day. It was not a straightforward evolution, moving inexorably from meal to Eucharist, from weekly to daily services, from ad hoc readings to the Divine Service. Regional variation was considerable, and individuals crafted their own rituals that might either intersect with those of the communal group or stand alone. In many respects, early Christian liturgy would have been startlingly different to a modern viewer accustomed to the Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox service, differences illustrated by many of the objects in this exhibition. The advent of the first specialized Christian buildings, particularly those of basilican form, not only provided a permanent, monumental home for Christian liturgy but also seem to have exerted their own influence on its development. Again, it is important to remember that, even in the early 4th century, Christian communities were unevenly concentrated in cities and still heterogeneous in their practices. The advent of the basilica as the most common building type for Christian worship enhanced certain already existing liturgical practices and, although we cannot know for sure, probably helped to homogenize these through a broadly shared building form. By the 5th and 6th centuries, when most of the objects in this exhibition were in use, liturgies had become more regularized and, within regions or specific cities, more homogeneous. As a result, specific, recognizable furnishings were made to accommodate these liturgies, objects that represent some of our most precious evidence for the elements of 5th- and 6th-century Christian ritual. One of these elements was procession. The procession of entrance and exit of clergy and the Gospels still forms part of Roman Catholic and Orthodox liturgy today, but in early Christian churches it was more elaborate and embraced the whole of the church building. In the church of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, about whose 6th-century liturgies we are relatively well informed, the first entrance began with an acclamation of the bishop outside the church, after which the bishop, clergy, and the whole of the faithful trooped into the church together. The faithful would have carried gifts of food, including bread and wine, which were by the end of our period placed in a special room near the apse or, as at the Hagia Sophia, a separate building. The faithful would then have taken their place in the nave, with women perhaps isolated in the aisles or in a second-story gallery, while the clergy sat in great benches in the apse and the bishop on a raised throne. The so-called Great Entrance marked the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy and saw the bread and wine taken from their storage place and walked to the altar. At this point the non-baptized members of the church, or catechumens, were removed to form yet another procession. Processions were not restricted to the church, however, but might range over the whole of the city. At times of military victory, a threatening enemy, plague, or other natural disaster,


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urban processions in large cities such as Constantinople or Rome marched from church to church, halting to beseech particular saints and embracing one by one each neighborhood of the city. These “emergency” citywide liturgies were then repeated on the anniversary of the day in question and eventually became part of the city’s religious calendar and an extended part of the regular liturgy—the so-called stational liturgy. Objects like the proces­ sional cross in this exhibition (cat. no. 112), icons, and relics would have been carried by the participants, while the bishop and clergy, gorgeously attired in the garb associated with their liturgical office, not only made these processions visually stunning but also marked the literal movement of the church—its symbols, liturgical apparatus, and liturgical personnel—around the city. So too the great processions within the church, which moved from door to apse, back to the altar, and back to the ambo for the sermon, continually brought together the people, the clergy, and the most basic elements of the liturgy: the gifts, the gospels, the bread, and the wine, periodically breaking down their assigned positions to knit the community together ritually. The principal element of the liturgy, as it is today, was the celebration of the Eucharist. It was at this moment that the blood sacrifice of Christ was reenacted as the bloodless sacrifice of his community, and thus the central communal moment of Christian life. The Eucharist was the centering point of the liturgy and was emphasized by the church’s very architecture, as well as by the ritual objects that highlighted its significance. The focal point of any early Christian church, basilican or centrally planned, was the altar (cf. cat. no. 105). Often made of marble, the altar took the form of a table and was placed before the apse inside the sanctuary, where it was protected by chancel screens (cf. cat. no. 101). Lamps were set to illuminate the altar, small teardrop-shaped containers for oil placed on the altar (cf. cat. no. 111) or hung from the ciborium on hanging platforms that served as candelabra (cf. cat. no. 110). Further veneration of the altar was made through smell: censers like the silver example here depicting Christ, Peter, Paul, angels, and saints (cat. no. 109) were used to cover the altar in fragrant incense, driving away evil, opposing the putrefaction of mortal death, and giving the congregation a whiff of the eternal paradise prepared by Christ’s sacrifice. Finally, the containers that held the bread and wine, which were the object of every congregant’s gaze, received special attention. Even poor village churches, such as that in Kaper Koraon in Syria where the Riha paten was dedicated, might have silver platters on which to place the bread (cat. no. 106), while the wine was blessed in silver cups (cat. no. 108).The precious materials would have glimmered in the dim light and been visible even to the throngs in the nave. These objects often bore imagery that commented upon their use; the so-called Riha paten, for instance, carried a modified version of the Last Supper. Instead of depicting that shared meal, however, the image shows the apostles gathered around an altar and receiving the bread and wine from Christ. The historical origins of the Eucharistic liturgy have been re-imagined to show the liturgy in which the faithful were actually participating. The image of the triumphant cross again appears everywhere, on lamps, censers, liturgical

silver, and the altar itself, alluding both to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that the Eucharist re-creates and to the communal triumph of the Christian community, whose central communal act is the Eucharistic moment. Another element of early Christian liturgy whose intensity might surprise modern Christians is the cult of relics. Relics were fragments of bone, hair, or clothing of a holy person, or even some object, such as a strip of cloth, that had touched a holy person’s tomb or relics. Veneration of the bodies of holy men and women had already begun in the later 2nd century, and by the late 3rd century shrines were being built over their graves. It was Constantine and his son Constantius II who brought these in situ graveyard venerations into the church proper— Constantine, by setting up “monuments” to the Apostles around his own tomb dedicated to the Holy Apostles, and Constantius, by actually excavating the Apostles Timothy, Andrew, and Luke, transporting their remains to Constantinople, and installing them in a building adjacent to Constantine’s mausoleum, a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles. The phenomenon of the translation, or movement, of relics, which was set in motion by Constantius, meant that a martyr’s remains, or relics, were not bounded by the grave or the martyr’s shrine but could be moved into any kind of church, or indeed even be appropriated by individuals for private veneration. It was in part because of concern over the proliferation of martyrs’ remains in private hands, as well as the feasting and partying that took place at martyrs’ graveyard tombs, that bishops sought to control the worship of martyrs, restricting their veneration to churches under episcopal control. Martyrs’ relics eventually became required in all churches and were placed beneath the altar as part of the ritual of consecration performed by the bishop. The consecration reliquary that transformed the Temple of Asklepios in Athens into a Christian church (cat. no. 104) contained the remains of some unknown martyr (or saint) and would have been placed beneath the altar in order to guarantee the martyr’s protection for the new church and the bishop’s seal of approval. The phenomenon of relics and their translation reminds us of the many aspects of Christian liturgy that are portable and thus could take place outside the great public churches, and, indeed, beyond the watchful eye of the bishop. Many of the objects on display here—the great patera, goblets, or the altar itself—probably come from church contexts. But other objects, including lamps bearing the cross and even smaller patera or cups, may just as easily have been used in more personal contexts, such as a home or private chapel. Domestic prayer and personal liturgies were a mainstay of daily life in the Late Antique world, as people of all religious persuasions sought to plug the gaps between the heady moments of the public mass with small-scale but probably more frequent rituals. Just as Greek Orthodox households today reserve a corner for images of the saints, candles, and written prayers that serve as a focus for household devotion, so too many Late Antique Christians (as well as pagans and Jews) would have had similar installations in their homes for personal relics, a holy image, or simply a lamp lit to

accompany supplications for the well-being of self and family. It was not only in the household, however, that liturgy was personalized. Many of the liturgical implements used in public churches bear the name of the person who donated them, from the modest lamp tag that recalls Thekla (cat. no. 102) to the great Riha paten (cat. no. 106), which was given to the tiny church of St. Sergios in the Syrian village of Kaper Koraon by one Megas, an imperial curator. The names of individuals, including laymen and especially clergy, might cover every surface of the church’s liturgical furnishings, from the altar and chancel screens to lamps and Eucharistic vessels. By giving to their church in this way, individuals not only obeyed the calls for charity but also inscribed themselves into the liturgy, tying their names to the community’s united call for divine aid and salvation. In some sense, this was not new; the Greco-Roman temple was littered with altars and other equipment used by individuals to call for special, personalized aid for themselves and their families. In the Christian churches, however, these calls were literally knit into the communal liturgy and its furnishings, the personal call for salvation being merely a piece—a lamp, an altar leg, a paten—of a ritual apparatus defined by the community as a whole. We must imagine the voices of Megas, the curator, and the anonymous donor of the Peter/Paul censer as the most penetrating voices of an entire choir, the call of a community for divine aid resounding through the prayers and furnishings of the liturgy.

Bibliography Dix 1945; Mathews 1971; Taft 1975; Brown 1981; Krautheimer 1986; Taft 1986; Baldovin 1987; Smith 1987; Mango 1990; White 1990; Boyd – Mango 1992; Taft 1992; Krautheimer 1993; Taft 1997; Hopkins 1998; Taft 1998; McGowan 1999; Moralee 2004; Bowes 2008; Bowes 2008b; Bogdanovic´ 2009; Yasin 2009.

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the emergence of christian art: old themes and new meanings Fabrizio Bisconti Christian art did not appear suddenly in response to the demands of patrons who wished to express through images the ideas, faith, and outlook of a new and different religion in the context of the multicultural climate that characterized the ancient world of Late Antiquity. Rather, the process was slow and gradual, if incessant, and spanned the first centuries of Christianity, beginning in the early 3rd century when the “world of death,” the more sophisticated and less preserved world of liturgical practice and the simple world of daily life simultaneously merged into a figurative realm, as if to express an “image revolution” that had settled paradoxically and perfectly into the cultural environment of Late Antiquity. The first steps of a Christian art proper, therefore, moved along a path that ideally continued the iconographic evolution of the past, a tradition centered on mythical heroes, personifications of the cosmos, and the genre repertoire derived from the most current forms of Hellenic culture spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin and the Middle East. Certain figurative traditions that were especially favored at the time of the Antonines and the Severans served as significant and popular subjects in the evolution of an art that eventually led to figurative Christian expression. The grandest and most celebrated theme embraced the subject of the cosmos, in the most comprehensive sense of that term, including time and space as well as elements and seasons. Interlaced with Dionysian culture, these themes found their most explicit manifestations in funerary art, functioning as background for the fresco decorations of sepulchral spaces and for the sculptures that adorn sarcophagi dating to the first half of the 3rd century. In this respect, we must remember that the production of Roman sarcophagi, which departed from the great Attic mythological tradition prevalent in Rome up to that time, introduced subjects ranging from marine to terrestrial themes, at times combining the elements of the cosmic order to embed within it the ineluctable destiny of the dead. The cosmic habitat thus becomes both a metaphor for earthly life and an image of another world, one that man strives to attain, a perfectly harmonious existence lived according to the inescapable laws of nature. In these monuments, commissioned by an aristocratic and wealthy elite fully aware of current religious and philosophical ideas, the cosmos is represented through parades of nymphs, sea and land gods, monsters, animals, genre scenes, and symbolic motifs. It is, indeed, at the beginning of the 3rd century that all of these figurative elements appeared again in reduced and symbolic form on the walls of private hypogea and catacombs, on the walls of cubicula, in arcosolia, and along galleries. The stylization of these elements depicted within complex linear systems of red and green—the ultimate synthesis of Vesuvian architectural decoration—attests, on the one hand, to the inexorable continuity of the cosmic theme at a place and a time in which Christianity


was coming to affirm itself openly and, on the other, to a slow subsiding of iconography of the past in order to allow room for the symbols of the new religion. Within the cosmic theme there were implanted certain “images” that, while personifying virtues and conditions, also prepared the access to new protagonists of Christian art, resulting in the so-called paradisiac or crypto-Christian sarcophagi that were conceived in Roman ateliers between the fourth and sixth decade of the 3rd century. On the front of these sarcophagi parade images of the shepherd kriophoros (lamb-bearer), pietas, the fisherman, and the philosopher in a more or less orderly fashion. Each figure carries meaning in itself as well as in relation to the other figures. Let us consider first the image of the shepherd carrying the lamb. At the same time it effectively embodies the concept of sacrificial idyll and can also be associated with the mythical figure of Hermes the psychopomp (escort of souls to the afterlife) and, as such, must also be incorporated into the larger theme of tranquillitas (tranquility), which characterizes the great pastoral sarcophagi where shepherds and farmers animated rural genre scenes. Thus the kriophoros represents a definitive synthesis of these broad agro-bucolic settings and also serves as a symbol of humanitas and, sometimes, represents the goodness that will come to define the parable of the lost Christian sheep and eventually become a Christian symbol. Yet the kriophoros may also derive from the cosmic contexts that relate, as we mentioned above, to genre paintings where the imaginary landscape is studded with peasants, fisherman, and convivial scenes describing a blissful and serene world that is both real and ideal. In these contexts, the figure of the fisherman joins that of the peasant to share the pax terra marique parta (peace on land and sea) that clearly alludes to the otherworld of Late Antiquity. Let us return to our crypto-Christian sarcophagi and let us recall in particular those in Basel and La Gayole. Here the four personifications clearly coexist and relate to one another: the fisherman and shepherd and, even more so, the philosopher and the muse. The latter pair, solid and more commonly found in Roman art, embodies the great theme of the muses that was already popular in pagan sarcophagi, but it has experienced a mutation in the sarcophagi we are considering here. The female figure of the muse has changed from a listener absorbed in the words of the sage to become image of the pietas erga homines et adversus deos (piety among men and toward the gods), the personification of one who listens or offers oneself, through a form of unconditional devotio, as an attentive and receptive interlocutor. The pensive air of the listener is replaced by a solemn posture, expansis manibus, with arms outstretched and palms open, which will come to epitomize the basic gesture of the new figurative imagery. This orant figure and the lambbearing shepherd leave behind the semantic baggage of the past and its multiple meanings to become a standard pair in the art of the catacombs, best illustrated in a cubiculum from the Licinia area in the cemetery of St. Callistus. Yet the expansis manibus gesture also developed independently, eloquently recounting the evolution of Christian figurative language. The gesture conveys the feeling of happiness

the emergence of christian art: old themes and new meanings

found in divine peace and celestial bliss. Prayer here is not intended as a plea or request for intervention but as continuous praise to the Lord, who rehabilitates man after original sin through esoteric interventions, baptism, martyrdom, and spiritual and physical healing. This interpretation is based on the words of the Church Fathers, who provided a most direct and reliable testimony. In the first letter to Timothy (2:8) Paul writes: “I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” Clement of Rome later clarifies: “Let us approach him with holiness of spirit, lifting onto him pure and undefiled hands.” The habit of praying with raised hands is discussed by Justin and Minucius Felix as a trait that characterizes pagans and Christians alike, whereas Tertullian specifies that Christians open their palms in addition to raising their hands. This gesture, which mimics the position of Christ on the cross, will also be adopted by the figures of the Old and New Testaments, as well as by the dead, the saints, the martyrs, Mary, and Christ. In sum, this gesture alludes to the perpetual prayer that, for Christians, does not resolve itself on earth but extends to the other world, as attested by Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:17), who invites the faithful to praise the glory of God incessantly and without interruption. As mentioned above, the figures of the fisherman and the philosopher are featured in the decorative sequences on paradisiac sarcophagi, as well as in the older paintings of the catacombs. According to ancient Hellenistic convention, the fisherman is depicted holding a pole and a net. As we shall see, the great story of Jonah will soon replace this figure, developing the marine theme with its vis tragica, while the philosopher will follow a long path that will lead from historical philosophy to Christian catechism, as attested by the Roman hypogeum of the Aureli in viale Manzoni. This funerary environment—which can safely be dated to the first half of the 3rd century, as it is enclosed within the Aurelian walls—offers a decorative program that includes, among other things, the theme of philosophy in every shape and context: from the wise man in an ideal building or urban setting to huge sequences with sages in the most diverse philosophical poses and small figures bearing staffs and scrolls symbolizing strength, tools for developing the forms of reasoning that open up new paths toward an uncertain hereafter. The decorative program of the Mausoleum of the Aureli reflects the culture and tensions of the Roman aristocracy at that time. Its iconography expresses an ideal, blessed world that exists somewhere between town and country, where members of the family, or of a slightly more extended group, enjoy the afterlife. In this rich and complex dimension, the dead are represented not only in the guise of philosophers, but also as shepherds, knights, rhetoricians, and guests. A century later, in the hypogeum of Via Dino Compagni, again in a private funerary context, the theme of philosophy, which is developed in one of the panels through the use of full figures and busts of philosophers, reaches its apex with an enigmatic scene that features a group of men seated in a semicircle, each wearing a tunic and pallium. In the presence of a figure dressed like a cynic, they are arguing about a nude man who lies before them and to

whom one of the participants is pointing (fig. 1). Rather than depicting a medical lesson, this scene is meant to represent a lesson in philosophy, and it acquires particular value if we consider that it reemerges precisely before a maiestas Domini with Christ flanked by Peter and Paul, almost as if it designates a confrontation between historical philosophy and new faith.

Fig. 1. Wall painting depicting a philosopher teaching his students, mid-4th century. From Room I of the hypogeum of Via Dino Compagni, Rome (Photo © Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra, Rome).

The neutrality of the first figurative experiments elaborated by Christians gradually give way to a selection of scenes directly inspired by the Bible, even though preference is still accorded to those featuring time-honored compositions. Indeed, some scenes seem to replicate the most popular iconography of classical mythology. Thus the depiction of Jonah resting under the arbor reflects Endymion’s sleep, and the image of Orpheus playing the lyre (fig. 2) will inspire that of the shepherd, by way of David the psalmist. Similarly, the symbol of the phoenix—like that of the peacock—continues to represent the resurrection of the flesh. As anticipated, certain myths provided compositions for episodes of the Old Testament, as is the case with the Creation of Adam and Eve and their Expulsion from Eden, perhaps already represented in the hypogeum of the Aurelii and certainly on the sarcophagi and frescoes of mature Christian art, according to

Fig. 2. W  all painting depicting Orpheus playing the lyre, ca. 250–300. From the catacomb of SS. Pietro e Marcellino, Rome (Photo © Pontificia Commissione di Archeologia Sacra, Rome).

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the iconographic order that informs the myths of Prometheus and of Herakles in the garden of the Hesperides. In this respect, we must note that the Herculean cycle will enjoy a long life in Late Antiquity, as we encounter it in the hypogeum of Via Dino Compagni, both in the canonical episodes of the Labors and in the touching story of Admetos and Alkestis. And in the same hypogeum—albeit later, perhaps during the brief rule of Julian the Apostate—we still recognize cosmic contexts that culminate in the cubiculum of Tellus but are expressed through personifications of the seasons or those relating to abundance. These themes are closely linked to the repertoire of the classical past and alternate with endless narrative cycles from the Old Testament featuring Noah, Moses, Samson, Job, and Balaam, as well as scenes from the New Testament, such as those of Christ multiplying the loaves and fishes or talking with the Samaritan woman at the well. Rome is not the only place where early Christian art emerged and evolved, or where this art fused with classical tradition. A series of explicitly Christian artistic expressions occurs simul­ taneously in various centers of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. A group of statuettes, unearthed in an unidentified Middle Eastern village and sold on the antiquarian market is housed today at the Cleveland Museum of Art. These little statues, which may have originally decorated a garden or nymphaeum, represent busts of the owners of the house, but also the Good Shepherd and most significant episodes of the story of Jonah. It is precisely these representations, which decorate a lost arcosolia in the cemetery of Bonaria in Cagliari and date to the mid-3rd century, that demonstrate how at a very early stage Christian scenes spread to the remotest cities of the Late Antique world by using similar methods and compositions. It so happens that, in the famous domus ecclesiae (houses used as churches for the community) of Dura Europos and, similarly, in the baptistery and cubicula of the Sacraments of the Area I of St. Callistus in Rome, we recognize the same compositions, such as Jesus’ healing of the paraplegic and his conversation with the Samaritan woman. And again in the baptistery of Dura Europos we find the Good Shepherd, Adam and Eve, and the struggle between David and Goliath, as in the cemeteries of St. Januarius in Naples, St. Felix in Nola, and Domitilla in Rome. The times, methods, and places seemed to reach a sort of harmony: the Christian figurative language in all of its developments consistently adopted the same rhythm and attained the same results, as the great mythological themes gave way to the beautiful stories of the Bible. Although isolated scenes, such as the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism, and the Crown of Thorns, appear in the catacombs and in the oldest cult buildings, certain symbols—the anchor, the fish, and the dove—were drawn from the cosmic sarcophagi of the 3rd century to decorate the oldest neutral or early Christian epitaphs, as in the funerary inscriptions of the catacomb of St. Sebastian.

The same stories of salvation selected from the Bible that emerged in the catacombs during the 4th century also appear on sarcophagi with continuous friezes. But the earliest scenes in which God is pictured emerged in a funerary context, beginning with the traditio legis (handing down of the law) inspired by imperial ceremonies. From the assembly of the Apostles organized as a philosophical council, of the type found in the hypogeum of Via Dino Compagni, is taken the central nucleus with Christ giving the law to Peter, according to the dynamic that animates the episode of Moses receiving the tablets. Paul looks on with approval, taking part in the solemn occasion as a dignitary of equal importance, in a paradisiacal environment between the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. From here sequences of lambapostles emerged, moving toward the mystical Lamb of God (agnus Dei) situated on the mountain from which the four rivers of Paradise flow. The scene, imbued with the political and religious language of the time of Constantine and his sons, perhaps originated in Peter’s martyrdom—hence the funerary context. This prototype spread first to the great imperial mausoleums, especially that of Costanza and later to all monuments and statues. The traditio legis will share its fortune with the maiestas Domini and also with the concordia apostolorum, that is, the embrace of Peter and Paul, which signified, from the time of Pope Damasus, the union of Church and empire. All of these scenes, inspired by the ideas circulating in imperial courts in the late 4th century, either in conflict or in agreement with those animating the churches of the time, found their natural place in the apses of cult buildings, while the old biblical scenes, organized according to a system of concordances theorized by Paulinus of Nola, unfolded along the naves. Such is the case in the basilica of S. Maria Maggiore, where, following the Council of Ephesus of 431, the triumphal arch was adorned with the infantia Salvatoris (childhood of Jesus) and the side aisle with an unbroken string of episodes from the Bible arranged in sequences already tested in the Constantinian cupolas of Costanza and Centcelles. Emerging Christian art now opened up to apocryphal and apocalyptical themes as shown above, respectively, in the apse of S. Pudenziana, the counter-façade of S. Sabina in the 5th century, and the apse of the basilica of Ss. Cosma e Damiano, which by the 6th century inaugurated the new Byzantine season and another chapter in the history of Christian art.

Bibliography Testini 1963, 230–300; Kraeling 1967; Testini 1968, 121–41; Testini 1973–74, 718–40; Schumacher 1977; Kitzinger 1978, 652–75; Ferrua 1990; Engemann 1991, coll. 577–607; Bisconti 1994, 23–66; Bisconti 1995, 71–93; Bisconti 1996, 71–93; Nieddu 1996, 245-83; Bisconti 1997, 733–46; Zanker 1997; Carletti 1999, 15–30; Bisconti 2000, 451–62; Bisconti 2000b, 368–72; Bisconti – Nestori 2000; Goffredo 2000, 219–20; Musso 2000, 373–88; Bisconti 2003; Bisconti 2004, 53–74; Bisconti 2006, 65–89; Bisconti 2007, 36–53; Bisconti 2009, 7–54; Bisconti 2011.


the emergence of christian art: old themes and new meanings

portraits and icons in late antiquity Katherine Marsengill In the early 5th century, the prefect Olympiodoros, who was building a church dedicated to the holy martyrs, was unsure about how to decorate his church, and so he sought advice. Olympiodoros described what he envisioned for his church in a letter to the ascetic Neilos of Ankyra. The prefect imagined that images of martyrs would be set up in the sanctuary and that the rest of the church would be decorated with hunting and fishing scenes, animals and plants. In his reply, Neilos warned against this; he felt strongly that only the cross should adorn the sanctuary as a straightforward reminder of salvation, and, so that the mind would not be distracted by frivolities, Old and New Testament scenes should be depicted on the walls of the church (PG 79, 577–80). The latter, Neilos claimed, would serve the illiterate. Delivered just a few decades earlier, Gregory of Nyssa’s sermon glorifying St. Theodore tells a different story about Christian images, one of vividly painted scenes of the saint’s torture and death that were on display at the saint’s shrine (PG 46, 737). For Gregory, the violent scenes were not only appropriate but also rather important. They served to heighten the emotional reactions of pilgrims, who were so overwhelmed by the sights and sounds at the shrine that they found themselves already weeping by the time they entered Theodore’s tomb. Gregory’s contemporary John Chrysostom provides insight into Christian images that were used in yet another fashion. In the funerary panegyric he composed in honor of Bishop Meletios, John recounts how the community had placed images of the beloved bishop everywhere—on rings, bowls, seals, and the walls of houses—because the people desired to keep the physical appearance of Meletios constantly before them (PG 50, 516). These three texts demonstrate strikingly different conceptions about the place of images in the public and private lives of early Christians, especially regarding the representations of Christian heroes. They also illustrate what is justifiably confusing in our attempts to understand the use of images of saints in Late Antique Christianity. In the Greco-Roman world, it was traditional to display images of venerable figures, which may have inspired the prefect Olympiodoros as he contemplated the decoration of his church. If Neilos’s letter of reply is authentic, then we can interpret his advice to limit decoration to the cross and didactic narratives as based on an opinion similar to those expressed by many 4th- and 5th-century church leaders who sought to curb image worship. The tendency to adore images was a common pitfall in a society habituated to the veneration of images, but images were also viewed by some mystics and theologians as unnecessary—indeed as hindrances—to the cultivation of spirituality. Gregory, on the other hand, saw the representations of St. Theodore at his shrine as part of the sensual experience of the saint, and he understood the image’s power both to narrate

events and to elicit compassion, especially when placed near holy relics. Over the course of the 4th century, images had become integral to celebrating the martyrs. Several descriptions of shrines survive to tell us that images enhanced Christian places of worship and helped to create the sensation of heavenly presence. These holy places were worlds apart from mundane affairs of Late Antique life and its everyday assaults on the senses. Neither Neilos nor Gregory makes any suggestion that the images they were discussing were portraits of the saints, but with John’s description we are given a glimpse of something quite different behind the intentions of the community as it set up images of Meletios. The images of Meletios were not narratives of his life and death, nor were they imaginative depictions. Indeed Meletios’s community knew the appearance of their bishop, and there may have been portraits that were painted during his lifetime serving as models. Meletios’s portraits presented his face to viewers for their contemplation, since portraits of a deceased loved one provide consolation to the living in a way that only portraits can. In all the texts, but especially John’s panegyric, we can identify the fertile ground in which the holy icon of Byzantium was sown; but we can also recognize, although it is not explicitly stated, that Meletios’s community was engaging in a kind of active veneration of the bishop through his portraits. For a person of Late Antiquity, it was only natural to honor a deceased leader in this way. Late Antique art has always been described in terms of transition, the visual production of a culture as it moved from one point to another. It is an art in relation—in relation to its departure from the classical and in relation to what it would become in the Middle Ages. The Christianization of the Roman Empire was no minor change, and the title of this exhibition and the objects displayed reflect the complexity of this process free of the former bias that judged Late Antiquity in terms of decline. Late Antique portraiture has been treated especially scathingly in the past by historians who saw the naturalistic portraiture of the Hellenic and Roman world as something that fell victim to this period of transition, a genre subsumed into the abstracting otherworldliness of Christian images. These opinions were gradually modified over the course of the 20th century as scholars came to consider medieval visual culture as art in its own right. Yet though the status of medieval art was raised, it was not without some repercussions to the study of Late Antiquity. Historians of medieval art tend to look back and see the style of Christian art as one that eventually overcame naturalism, an inevitable outcome of a visual and conceptual shift that had percolated over centuries. Portraiture, especially the great sculpted portraits of the Romans, faded into obscurity as flat, two-dimensional depictions of Christ and the saints proliferated. This phenomenon reveals much about the medieval perception of the world and the body (see C´urcˇic´). The disappearance of the naturalistic portrait has been understood as part of Christianization, no matter if one sees it as the demise of classicism or the triumph over it. The rise of the holy icon sealed the fate of portraiture and the place it had held in

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antiquity. This did not happen quickly, however, and most scholars accept that veneration of holy images of Christ and the saints began in earnest in the 6th century. The function of holy icons in Christian worship is a very complex problem that still divides scholars today. One aspect has remained particularly troubling for scholars: where in the art of Late Antiquity could one find the seeds for what would

medallions and one in a rectangular frame. A 2nd-century panel portrait of a woman, found in a grave at Hawara in Egypt, has the same rectangular frame, which is illustrated twice in the painting inside the artist’s sarcophagus as hanging on the wall and set on the easel (fig. 2). Although the portrait from Hawara is the only antique example we have that has this frame, the type was used centuries later; at least three early icons from Mount

Fig. 1. S arcophagus with portrait of an artist in his workshop, 1st century. From Pantikapaion, Bosporan Kingdom (present-day Kerch, Crimea). The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, P-1899.81 (Photo © The State Hermitage Museum; photo by Vladimir Terebenin, Leonard Kheifets, Yuri Molodkovets).

grow into the holy icon of later centuries? We may begin where many early scholars on the subject of icons began, namely, with the portrait panel. Portraiture has traditionally been considered the ubiquitous preoccupation and greatest triumph of GrecoRoman art. Our impression of antiquity is one covered in marble and stone and decorated with sculpture and reliefs, so it may be surprising to discover that panel painting was especially esteemed. In the 1st century, Pliny the Elder praised painting above sculpture and describes in his Natural History (35, 1) many examples of portable or panel paintings in encaustic (wax pigments). However, it is only in the arid climate of the Egyptian desert that examples of panel paintings have been preserved, and of these the mummy portraits represent by far the largest body of evidence (we will return to the mummy portraits presently). Yet we know panel paintings were common throughout the Roman world. Roman wall paintings survive that are decorated with illusions of hung panels—of landscapes and portraits, images of gods, even freestanding triptychs painted as if displayed on trompe l’oeil tables. The interior of an artist’s stone sarcophagus dating to the turn of the 2nd century shows the painter at his trade (fig. 1). The artist is depicted in his workshop, seated in front of a box of paints and an easel. Three portraits are painted as if hung on the wall behind him, two in circular


portraits and icons in late antiquity

Fig. 2. Portrait of a woman, 2nd century. From Hawara, Egypt. The British Museum, London (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

Sinai were framed this way. Portraits were especially important to funerary practices, and it may be that framed portraits were hung in tombs, since frescoes in tombs mimic on walls the portrait genre, depicting the deceased in square or round frames. An interesting example suggests that separate portraits could be incorporated into larger wall compositions. The cubiculum of Oceanus in the catacomb of St. Callistus outside Rome shows the bust of the deceased painted directly on the tomb’s vault, but with a blank rectangular area outlining where his face should be. Holes in this area tell us that a portrait of the deceased—perhaps on linen or panel—had once been fixed there. Portraits in many media could be found in the domestic sphere and used in ancestor cults. Roman tradition demanded the display of portrait masks of ancestors in the homes of Rome’s elites. Originally made of wax, portrait masks were kept in cupboards and taken out during funerals and worn by participants, so that all family members were present with the deceased. Pliny states that portraits had once been preserved in colors, but in his time clipeate (round) portraits made of bronze had become fashionable. The author laments that the new versions were idealized and flashy and lacked the reserved decorum of the past (Pliny, Natural History 35, 2). Portraits were also used in cult practices honoring deceased teachers, philosophers, and pagan holy men. For example, Pliny also tells us that followers of Epicurus carried around a portrait of the philosopher; they kept private images of the philosopher, as well (Pliny, Natural History 35, 2). In Egypt, not just portraits but entire mummified bodies were sometimes preserved in homes— stored in special cupboards, displayed in atria, or placed in separate shrines. Mummies were also placed in funerary chapels and in large family tombs, where they could be visited by living relatives. The vita of the first Christian ascetic, St. Anthony of Egypt, attests to the practice of keeping the body in view. At the time of his death, Anthony ordered his disciples not to display his body, as was customary, but to bury it (Vita Antonii 90–91). Both pagans and Christians alike believed tombs were places where the living could interact with the deceased. Continued devotion to the deceased ensured that they would offer aid from the supernatural realm, intervene when possible, and intercede with higher spiritual entities on behalf of the living. Festivals honoring the dead continued well into Late Antiquity, even among Christians. Private commemoration at family members’ graves was a tradition Christians were reluctant to give up. Augustine of Hippo famously complained about these practices, during which members of his congregation would gather at the tombs of their loved ones, drink to excess, and adore the images of the deceased (De moribus ecclesiae catholicae 34.45). Scholars have recognized that this belief in the concentrated supernatural power that could be accessed at the tombs of the dead also infused the atmospheres around the tombs of the martyrs as Christians gathered there to honor them. These gatherings were also likely to lapse into indecorous behavior, but eventually churchmen encouraged their congrega­ tions to approach the martyrs in a much more sober and subdued manner.

The exhibition features three mummy portraits from Egypt (cat. nos. 139–141). Until their discovery in the late 19th century, antique panel painting had been known only from texts and a handful of examples. With the discovery of mummy portraits, a significant gap in the study of the panel portrait genre, whether ancient, medieval, or Renaissance, had been filled. Yet it was among those who study icons that the mummy portraits resonated most loudly, and scholars immediately declared the mummy panels to be the ancestors to Byzantine icons. The comparison between mummy portraits and icons was buttressed with evidence that had already been uncovered in the mid-19th century, when the earliest icons in existence were discovered at the isolated monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai. Four early icons, including an icon of St. Sergios and St. Bakchos (fig. 3), were taken to Kiev in the Ukraine. The icons, which date to the 6th and 7th centuries, share remarkable similarities with the mummy portraits. Indeed, the earliest icons bear a closer resemblance to the antique portraits of Egypt than to Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox icons of later centuries. Like many of the mummy portraits, they are painted in encaustic, and, though there still is the expected abstraction, many are executed in a more naturalistic style than later icons. Moreover, the growth of the cult of the martyrs over the course of the 4th and 5th centuries provides a sensible context for the origin of the icon. The funerary portrait, so it appeared to icon scholars, was adapted for Christian usage at martyrs’ shrines, where it evolved into the holy icon. The icon’s unique abstractions could also be properly explained by its funerary origins, as some of the same tendencies were observed in the mummy portraits, which evince the desire on the part of viewers to communicate with the deceased. Emphasis on the ongoing relationship between the living and the dead influenced the appearance of the eyes, which were frequently enhanced, made larger and more luminous, in order

Fig. 3. I con of Sts. Sergios and Bakchos, 6th century. St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai (Photo reproduction permitted by the Bodhan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of Arts, Kiev, Ukraine).

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to create the feeling that the deceased were present. Enlivened by such portraits, the bodies of the dead—placed either in tombs or in households—gave the impression that the dead could see and interact with the living. Their large eyes also convey a sense of deep spirituality and wisdom. In rituals involving the dead, portraits offered an assuring visual component, presenting to the living the familiar faces of loved ones in the otherworld. As they gazed out from the panels, their serene faces undoubtedly calmed the anxieties of the living about the afterlife. Mummy portraits seem to conform to a larger trend that can be observed in Late Antique portraiture, a trend that eventually resulted, in the opinion of scholars, in the holy icon. Late Antique people, for a variety of reasons that were also important to the formation and spread of Christianity, turned away from representations of external appearances. Many eschewed the material body altogether and disdained its representation in art. Others concerned themselves with the notion that portraits were useful, because they could convey something about the interior, or spiritual, nature of the individuals depicted. We see a type of representation in Late Antique portraiture that subverts naturalistic features in favor of typified features that were used in order to express the internal qualities of the person. The shift in human representation from naturalistic to flat, abstract images has often been called the rise of the spiritualized portrait. It is a type of portraiture distinctive to the Middle Ages, but which emerged during the 3rd and 4th centuries, the age of Middle- and Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Docetism, and similar philosophic and religious movements that emphasized the transcendent nature of man. Most important to the subject at hand is that this perception profoundly affected the orthodox Christian understanding of how the physical body could visually manifest a person’s interior spirituality. Painted panels existed in other facets of Late Antique society as well. Best known are imperial panels, which did not lose any ground when the empire was Christianized. Imperial icons were venerated throughout the Byzantine period, and the belief that the emperor deserved the honor that was given to him through the veneration of his portraits was never questioned. There is only one imperial panel that has survived, a tondo (ca. 200) with portraits of the emperor Septimius Severus and his family, also from Egypt. The appearance and medium of Late Antique and Byzantine imperial portraits, however, are known from texts (for example, John Chrysostom’s Ad illuminandos catechesis II: PG 49, 233), which describe them as wax panels bearing the likeness of the emperor, and from manuscript illuminations, both secular (such as Notitia Dignitatum) and sacred (such as the Rossano Gospels). For a long time it was argued that imperial portraits and imperial iconography spear­ headed the development of Christian images in the 4th century. In recent years, the influence of pagan icons has also been considered. Painted on panels, framed, and sometimes shown with diminutive donor portraits, pagan icons share the medium of Christian icons and ostensibly their function, namely, for veneration. There is reason to include pagan imagery in our understanding of Christian art. During the early centuries of


portraits and icons in late antiquity

Christianity especially, the identity of Christ conformed to a number of types, both humble and exalted—the good shepherd (cat. nos. 117–119) and robed philosopher, the bearded gods Serapis and Jupiter, and the youthful, effulgent sun god Sol. Some icons of saints inherited pagan iconography. The palimpsest of the holy riders of Thrace, for example, may be discerned in icons of the warrior St. Demetrios, who appears on his horse brandishing his spear and conquering foes. The cult of Isis was very extensive in the eastern Mediterranean. Painted images of the enthroned goddess—who was called Theotokos (Godbearer)—nursing her divine son, Horus, still survive in fragments found in private households, icons no doubt set up for the benefit of women. Memories of Isis can be observed in the image of the Virgin Mary (declared Theotokos in 431) with the Christ Child. Disciples of Christ took on the appropriate features of philosopher-teachers; beards and receding hairlines were signs of wisdom and experience. Panel paintings of gods were venerated with garlands, incense, and candles, which suggests that Christian icons have more in common with pagan panels than any other kind of image. Our earliest documentation for the use of Christian images, however, suggests that portraiture rather than depictions of deities informed the development of the Christian icon. An early 2nd-century text, the apocryphal Acts of John (24–29), describes an event in which a disciple of John named Lykomedes commissions a portrait of the apostle, which he places on an altar in his bedroom, with garlands and censes, and in front of which he places lamps. John was a guest in Lykomedes’s home and, not realizing that it was a portrait of himself, was shocked to see his host worshiping an image as if he were a pagan. In the same century, Irenaeus of Lyon (Adversus haereses 1.25.6) chastised the Gnostics for worshiping an image of Christ believed to have been made by Pontius Pilate. Unless it was conceivable to a Late Antique audience (for reasons we cannot comprehend) to imagine Pilate applying a chisel to stone, we must assume this was a painted portrait. In the 4th century, Eusebios (Historia ecclesiastica VII, 18, 4) expressed his displeasure about portraits of Christ that were circulating among otherwise mindful Christians, but he did not deny the validity of the portraits. Indeed, he had seen with his own eyes “images of the apostles Paul and Peter and indeed Christ himself preserved in painting; presumably, men of olden times were heedlessly wont to honor them thus in their houses, as the pagan is with regard to saviors.” Eusebios also criticized followers of Simon the Sorcerer for worshiping his painted image (Letter to Constantia: PG 20, 1545ff). These texts provide evidence for the use of portraits of Christ and other saints by Christians, who treated them in a manner that could be construed as pagan, not in the sense of who were venerated in the images, but how they were venerated. Moreover, these were not funerary portraits, although they were commemorative. We must remember that pagans venerated portraits of all kinds, and therefore their attitudes about portraits set the only examples for Christians who wished to express the same sentiments toward their own leaders and “saviors.” Porphyry, the 3rd-century pagan and disciple of Plotinos, writes

that the honor shown toward a portrait of a friend is given to the friend, suggesting to us that the beliefs guiding the veneration of imperial portraits and the images of gods and goddesses were equally present in the honor shown portraits of loved ones (Contra Christianos, fragment in Makarios Magnes, Apocriticus 4, 21, translation by Berchman, 2005). What differs is the level of intimacy; we can only imagine the numerous undocumented, ad hoc, and ritual offerings, and even the spontaneous displays of affection by people to portraits of their friends, loved ones, spiritual or philosophical leaders, and patrons. Similarly, in our early Christian accounts, there is an emphasis on portraiture, especially likenesses painted during the lifetimes of Christ and the saints, as well as the idea that they could be venerated privately as a way to show honor to the one portrayed. It is perplexing, then, why the earliest acknowledged evidence for Christian icons dates to the 6th century, when the encaustic icons from Sinai were painted and when texts about icons proliferated. Miraculous icons and portraits of Christ that magically appeared imprinted on other surfaces, icons that protected the capital of Byzantium and led troops to battle, and many more icons that demonstrated power to act (almost) autonomously, flourished in the 6th and 7th centuries. For these reasons, scholars attribute the birth of the icon to the 6th century and not before. The reasons for this, however, define Christian icons according to what icons looked like and whether they were part of a cult in which a recognized holy person was venerated through his or her representation. For the latter, it should be emphasized that there was no word that distinguished an icon as something different than a portrait. The Greek word eikon simply meant “portrait” and signified a representation of a particular person who, depending on his or her spiritual or social status, might be closer to God and therefore more capable of commanding God’s ear. This person could be a living intercessor, such as a bishop or holy man, or a deceased person. Among the deceased, a person could be commemorated by only a few followers or inspire a large and sustained cult. The 6th century saw the rise in miraculous icons, which is its own phenomenon. This is an important nuance; in some circles of Late Antiquity the practice of portraiture—creating a likeness of something else—was not an artistic expression, but a philosophical question. The same concerns about portraits are attested in Christian writings and culminated in the iconoclastic debate of the 8th and 9th centuries. It was not just image adoration that was problematic, but also a question about the limitations of portraiture, in other words, what a portrait was capable of portraying, especially in regard to depicting the divinity of Christ. The existence of miraculous icons provided substance to iconophile arguments about the legitimacy of icons but was by no means the primary reason why icons (or better, portraits of those worthy of veneration) should be venerated. As for the first criterion that defines an icon as a certain type of image, we may look to other kinds of portraits in other media and contexts for possible counter examples. If we judge the icon of Late Antiquity in terms of its stylistic and functional similarities with the icons of the 6th century, we place emphasis

on the image and not on the viewer; we look at the problem from the wrong direction. In a culture that was so diverse in its artistic expression, it may not be possible to find in the 4th century panel paintings of saints that not only look like later icons but also match the 6th- and 7th-century descriptions of miraculous holy icons. Rather, the icon can be found in many faces and in many media, in public and in private domains, in the desire of various peoples in Late Antiquity to have likenesses of loved ones and esteemed people that could serve to focus the sentiments of viewers. Such images were used in the gentlest commemorations, as well as in the most profound expressions of veneration. The origins of the icon can indeed be seen in the

Fig. 4. Coptic wall painting depicting saints and a donor, 6th century. From the monastery of Apa Jeremias, Saqqara, Egypt. Coptic Museum, Cairo, 23, 7951 (Photo © Borromeo / Art Resource, NY).

veneration of the emperors and gods, but perhaps they are more comparable to the intimate engagement provided by portraits of holy men and philosophers, family and friends. As Christianity opened up to admit larger sections of Rome’s diverse population, numerous attitudes about portraits and the traditions that accompanied them entered into Christian practices. What changed was who became worthy of veneration. The community of Christians became family, bishops and ascetics became spiritual leaders, and the saints were the friends of God and man. Nor did it necessarily matter if the portrait was accurate, although this strikes us as odd considering our definition of a portrait. Indeed, it was more important that the portrait conformed to the expectations of the viewer. Christian portraits

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provided viewers a feeling of connection with people who had attained the highest levels of spirituality, and the stylization of facial features enhanced the experience. We can see, then, how the figures in a 6th-century wall painting from the monastery at Saqqara in Egypt were considered portraits by the monks living there (fig. 4). Monks’ cells lined with images of saints presented a series of exemplars upon which the living monks could meditate. Additionally, the saints at Bawit have been painted in a way that visualizes the belief that they had been spiritually transformed; they return the viewer’s gaze with the peaceful, knowing eyes of the transcended. Fourth-century Church Fathers used the portrait/icon as a metaphor to describe the close relationship one might have with such Christian exemplars. John Chrysostom held the apostle Paul up as an example of virtue after whom Christians should endeavor to model themselves. The words of the saint allowed one to “gaze into Paul’s soul, just as into a certain archetypal image (archetypos eikon).” John felt that preaching allowed his listeners to sketch the saint in their hearts and keep within them this perfect example, painting themselves in the image of Paul’s perfect image. Indeed, Christians were encouraged to make of themselves icons of icons. Basil the Great (Epistle II, 3) writes: “As painters when they paint icons from icons, looking closely at the model, are eager to transfer the character of the model to their own work, so he who strives to perfect himself in all branches of virtue must look to the lives of saints as if to moving and living images and make their virtue his own by imitation.” Although it is vastly interesting that this passage refers to icon painting in the 4th century, it implies something even greater about the conceptual importance of icons in the 4th century. Basil makes the copying of icons a metaphor for imitating the saints, telling his followers that spiritual attainment is reached through endeavoring to copy from perfect models. Indeed, the conceptual nature of painting is already apparent in the 2nd-century Acts of John, when, after John realizes the portrait is of himself, he tells Lykomedes to become like an artist and paint his soul with the colors of faith and good deeds; these “colors,” we are told, have been made visible and accessible to Lykomedes from God through his representative, John (Acts of John 29). One could easily argue that there was no atmosphere more conducive to the advent of the holy icon than one in which the people of a given society were intent upon making themselves into images of images, and who saw the Christian exemplars as reflections of the divine, and themselves as reflections of these reflections. Moreover, spiritual achievements could be seen in the faces of the spiritually advanced, as if they had been painted with bright new colors. Maximos Confessor describes the appearances of holy men by saying, “the result is that God alone is made manifest through the soul and the body, their natural characteristics being overwhelmed by the transcendence of glory (Capita theologica et oeconomica 2. 88).” Just as Moses’ face shone with the radiance of God when he descended from Sinai, mystical encounters were made wholly visible in one’s countenance. Thus, what looks to us to be abstracted and typified, was perceived as a true portrait


portraits and icons in late antiquity

of a holy person as he or she actually looked. The stylistic devices were deployed through the filter of a distinctive way of seeing, where it was understood that the face of the person mirrored his or her transcended soul. John Chrysostom was not the only one to laud Bishop Meletios. Gregory of Nyssa, too, delivered a funerary panegyric dedicated to the bishop in which he told those who had gathered to hear: “No longer does he pray to the type or shadow of the things in heaven, but he looks upon the very embodiment of these realities. No longer through a glass darkly does he intercede with God, but face to face he intercedes with Him: and he intercedes for us,” (translation by Ph. Schaff, 1892). When he was alive, Meletios was an image of heaven directed toward the people; in death, he became an intercessor before God. Meletios’s portraits were not merely a consolation but presented the viewers the face of one whom they considered an intercessor. The community would have certainly been comforted in the knowledge that one of their own had entered the heavenly realm. The reproduction of his portrait was undoubtedly accompanied by certain notions that were prevalent in Late Antiquity about the ability of the portrait to provide communication with and access to the world beyond. It is no surprise, then, that by the 6th century portraits became increasingly important to church decoration, and biblical narratives, images of martyrdom, and decorations associated with paradise receded. After Iconoclasm, to walk within a church was to be embraced by the panoply of familiar faces, men and women who were loved by God, who were supreme examples of the Christian faith, and, because they had transcended their materiality, had become connections between the earthly and heavenly realms.

Bibliography Petrie 1889; Schaff 1892, 516; Ainalov 1900–1901/1961, 210–12; Ainalov 1902, 343–77, pls. I, III, IV, V; Wilpert 1916, vol. I, 109–10, v. IV, pl. 181; Heil – van Heck – Spira 1967; L’Orange 1973, 91–102; Mitchell 1995, 15–43; Borg 1997, 26–32; Mango 1997, 18, 32, 36–37, 39–40, 47; Berchman 2005, 217; Mathews 2006.

aesthetic shifts in late antique art: abstraction, dematerialization, and two-dimensionality Slobodan C´urcˇic´ History of art as a discipline was born in Florence during the 15th century on the coattails of a new artistic tradition known as the Renaissance. The new art and its name, meaning “rebirth,” grew upon a broad ideological foundation aimed at reviving the artistic traditions of ancient Greece and Rome. Accordingly, the Middle Ages, the period between antiquity and the Renaissance, came to be viewed as an age of general decline in the arts. Thus, already three centuries before Edward Gibbon (1737–1794), the developments that took place between ancient Roman civilization and that of “pre-modern” Europe were dismissed by the Renaissance ideologues as products of an age dominated by the uncivilized “barbarians,” peoples originally living outside the frontiers of the Roman Empire. Their invasions of the Roman territories, starting in the 3rd century, contributed to the decline of the empire and eventually led to the total collapse of its western half. The “barbarian” order brought with it a new art whose accomplishments were perceived by the Renaissance elite as decadent failures. Thus, a lasting dismissive judgment of the artistic heritage of the Middle Ages was cast, while the notion of Art was confidently applied only to the artistic tradition associated with antiquity and its post-medieval “rebirth.” As Peter Brown points out in his historical introductory essay, this negative attitude gradually began to change only during the decades between the two world wars. New views of history and history of art began to emerge, and the “end of antiquity” eventually ceased to be viewed as an “end.” Recognized instead, as a new era in its own right, Late Antiquity emerged from a decreed “darkness” as a genuine and vibrant prolongation of the Greco-Roman cultural tradition couched within the Christian framework. As this exhibition of Late Antique art attests, the epoch, in Peter Brown’s words “was the last and the most open of the great ages of antiquity.” The goal of this essay is to highlight the main shifts in aesthetic principles that distinguish the art of Late Antiquity (ca. 200–ca. 700) within the context of the Roman Empire after ca. 500, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Largely, though not exclusively, the art in question is associated with Christianity, the new official religion of the Roman Empire after 313. In part reliant on older established aesthetic principles, but in part having also rejected them, Late Antique art introduced new principles, in keeping with the religious objectives and tenets of the new era. The shaping of early Christian understanding of the role of art was a long process marked by protracted, contentious debates. Inasmuch as the breakdown of ancient aesthetics and ancient principles in art has been associated with the rise of Christianity, it must be stressed that such a formulaic equation is inadequate and ultimately misleading. The process, as old as Christianity itself, actually began outside the Christian frame­

work. Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher, active during the first half of the 1st century, was one of the great thinkers whose outlook focused on the reconciliation of the ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman philosophical traditions. In the realm of aesthetics, he equated beauty in art with natural beauty. However—in what to us may seem a paradox— “natural” for Philo did not include the human body, which he referred to as the source of all “human misfortunes,” a “horrible prison” in which the human soul languishes incarcerated. In contrast to natural beauty, which he believed was stable (durable), the human body, and therefore beauty associated with humans was, in his view, ephemeral. And so, according to Philo, the quest of permanent beauty is what sets a wise man on the path of truth. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150–ca. 215), referred to by some as the first Christian scholar, in some ways followed in the footsteps of Philo by refining the concept of “true beauty” as the testimony of “divine wisdom.” Clement was responsible for the formulation of the general structural principle of the origins of the universe. According to his concept, it was the “archetype,” or “divinity” (he avoids the word God), that generated a sequence of imprinted images. “Image” in Clement’s way of thinking refers to both visible and invisible entities. The first imprint of the archetype, according to Clement, is Logos, the invisible image of the archetype. The next imprint is Jesus Christ, in whom both the invisible and the visible are conflated in a unique manner. Human beings constitute the next order of this sequence of “imprints.” Man, having been imprinted with Christ’s own image, has the potential, but also an obligation, to strive for spiritual perfection. The last, fourth order of imprints comprises man-made images. According to Clement, these are farthest removed from the archetype and therefore from truth itself. Clement’s hierarchic concept of the emanation and the meaning of images laid the groundwork for future Christian thinkers. Issues inherent in these matters were still actively debated during the 4th century by—among others—St. Athanasios of Alexandria and St. Gregory of Nyssa. The process continued through most of the 5th century, its final synthesis—so far as the aesthetic principles in Byzantine art are concerned—taking place about 500 in the work of an unknown author remembered only as Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite. It is ironic that the foundations of Byzantine aesthetic thinking, by virtue of an historical fluke, are associated with the theoretical work of a man whose name we do not know. Of marginal significance in central theological disputes of his time, Pseudo-Dionysios was of major importance on account of his sharpening of principles that were to become the foundation stone of Byzantine as well as Western medieval aesthetics. For Pseudo-Dionysios, the broadest philosophical-religious category was the symbol (το σu’μβολον), an overarching concept that included the meaning not only of “picture,” “sign,” “representation,” and “beauty,” but also of the human body and its parts (at times signifying spiritual or divine powers)—and beyond these also—light, aroma, liturgical functions, and, above all, the Eucharist. Thus, according to PseudoDionysios, the preeminent role of any symbol is in its inherent

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power to reveal and conceal simultaneously. “Absolute beauty,” in his words, is not external but internalized, accessible only to those capable of “spiritual seeing.” Furthermore, a symbol can have multiple meanings that are revealed only by the context within which it appears. Ultimately, it was Pseudo-Dionysios who was responsible for the most extensive and most influential formulation of the meaning of light (το φως). According to him, light—like all other symbols—also has visible and invisible aspects. It too exists on the borders of the earthly (physical) and the divine (spiritual) spheres. Spiritual, or “divine,” light dwells within pictures (εικo’νες) and is thus made accessible to those humans capable of spiritual seeing. Beauty, according to PseudoDionysios, is an agent of light—“beauty shines”—while light itself retains a broader and deeper spiritual meaning linked as it is, according to him, with the good (το αγαθo’ν) or the life-giving property of the divine. Relying on the works of others preceding him, PseudoDionysios was able to sharpen the understanding of the meaning of the icon. Following in the footsteps of St. Basil the Great and his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysios formulated the central idea of the icon as the will of God, the Incarnation being the instrument of linking the heavenly and the earthly spheres and making God visible (albeit partially) through the birth of Jesus Christ. For Pseudo-Dionysios, the definition of the link between the heavenly and earthly hierarchies was a matter of utmost concern. So he perceived the manner of transmission of divine information from God to man by the Holy Spirit along a path of divine light, necessitating qualitative transformation of the information bearer at a specific point. According to him, this is a precisely defined borderline between the two spheres. At that crucial junction, the bearer of the divine information from “spiritual” (also defined as the lowest level of the heavenly hierarchy) is transformed into “material form” (also defined as the highest level of the earthly hierarchy). According to PseudoDionysios, there are two methods of representing spiritual beings: as “corresponding” and “non-corresponding.” The correspond­ing method reveals a positivistic approach and relies on the isomorphic principles, in the tradition of ancient aesthetic theory. As such—according to Pseudo-Dionysios—this method is inferior in contrast to the antithetical, “non-corresponding” method. That method, which he believed was diametrically opposite to the ancient ideals, is essential in conveying the spiritual essence. Though reminiscent of the “rule of contrasts” known in ancient art theory, its application in PseudoDionysios’s work, needless to say, had a very different meaning and objectives. Byzantine art in its formative stages displayed shifts in developmental directions not unlike those noted in the formative stages of Late Antique philosophy and theology. However, it would be impossible and methodologically unwise to try to relate every shift in the development of art and architecture to changes in contemporary theological thought. Furthermore, Byzantine, unlike ancient Greek and Roman aesthetic principles, were generated by theological teachings, but never coalesced into a body of written theory. Their fruits are nonetheless evident


in various forms, ranging from Byzantine rhetorical descriptions (ekphraseis) to the works of art themselves. The absence of comprehensive aesthetic theory, however, made Byzantine art generally inaccessible even to Christians who were not orthodox. The 15th-century emergence of artistic theory in Renaissance Italy signaled not only the revival of ancient art, but also the final parting of ways with the Late Antique and Byzantine artistic traditions. Among the aesthetic phenomena that reveal shifts from the established aesthetic principles in art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, the following three will be singled out as being of major significance: abstraction, dematerialization, and two-dimensionality. Abstraction. In contrast to naturalism, the dominant aesthetic principle of Greco-Roman antiquity, the art of Late Antiquity increasingly relied on abstraction as an aesthetic principle of choice. “Abstraction,” in this context, implies predominantly a rejection of naturalistic conventions but also a reliance on a range of symbols totally unrelated to the representational framework of naturalism. However, strict rules and principles that governed naturalistic expression—such as similitude of forms, principles governing the design of architectural orders, proportional relationships in architecture and art, and relative scale in representation of different objects, along with many other conventions compiled in theoretical writings—were abandoned deliberately and replaced by theological principles that never produced a coherent body of new theory of either architecture or art. Symbols, for example, became the basic elements of the new language of art, free of the overriding principles of design, such as proportional relationships of individual parts to the whole, scale relationships of different objects, and so on. The process of reliance on naturalism declined gradually, although certain of its aspects, used selectively, were never entirely abandoned. Often rendered on minuscule objects, the new principles convey the breadth of audience they were intended to address. One of the distinctive groups of such objects were lead flasks, also known as ampullae, made for the purpose of containing

Fig. 1. Ampulla with depiction of the Crucifixion, 6th century. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 48.18 (Photo © Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.).

aesthetic shifts in late antique art: abstraction, dematerialization, and two-dimensionality

holy oil gathered at major Christian pilgrimage sites to be carried home by visiting pilgrims. The main face of one such flask, produced in the Holy Land in the 6th century, illustrates the Crucifixion but uses predominantly symbolic language (fig. 1). A small cross with even arms occupies the center of the composition, and at the top is a bust of the bearded Christ with a cruciform halo. This symbolic allusion to the Crucifixion is flanked by a naturalistic rendition of the two crucified thieves. With the exception of the use of symmetry, all other rules of classical art appear to have been deliberately abandoned. Dematerialization. One of the clearest manifestations of the dramatically altered aesthetic principles of Late Antique architecture and art is registered in the paradoxical effort of denying “materiality” of form through the very material means of the medium itself (e.g., sculpture). The means whereby this was achieved varied, but the central principle involved in accomplishing it was based on creating abstract patterns derived from naturalistic forms. In architectural sculpture, for example, this was facilitated by reducing the three-dimensionality of forms to a minimum, through the use of drilling and undercutting. The aesthetic result was the dematerialized lacelike effect made in marble. The quality of daintiness thus achieved underscored the notion of “spirituality” (the invisible), as opposed to “physicality” (the visible) in art. An aspect of this process may be understood by comparing three column capitals: from the 2nd, 5th, and 6th centuries. A 2nd-century Roman Corinthian capital from Ostia displays all characteristics appropriated from classical Greek Corinthian capitals (fig. 2a). Especially evident are the stylized though naturalistically rendered acanthus leaves, the hallmark of this capital type. The 5th-century capital from the Basilica A at Philippi in Greece, illustrates the continuing reliance on ancient Corinthian capital design (fig. 2b). The still recognizable forms of acanthus leaves, a basic element of the Corinthian capital, have here been subjected to a new level of stylization that anticipates the forming of surface patterns, which supersede a naturalistic representation of acanthus leaves. Fully evident on a 6th-century column capital from Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, these patterns take over virtually the entire surface of the capital and its surrounding features (fig. 2c). The deep drill work and the undercutting transform this capital and the surrounding architectural features into lacelike surfaces that visually deny their structural firmness. The new aesthetic principles and technical virtuosity produce an illusion of spiritualized weightlessness through the process of physical dematerialization. Two-dimensionality. The most ubiquitous and enduring aesthetic shift in the art of Late Antiquity, and in the Byzantine art that follows, was the virtual elimination of three-dimensional in favor of two-dimensional representations. Intimately linked with a frontal manner of viewing, this new artistic paradigm became the clearest expression of theological tenets of the church as manifested in Byzantine images of saints, although it was employed in other contexts, such as representations of buildings and cities.

Fig. 2a. Roman Corinthian capital, 2nd century. From Ostia, Italy (Photo courtesy of Slobodan C´urcˇic´).

Fig. 2b. Byzantine Corinthian capital, 5th century. From Basilica A in Philippi, Greece (Photo courtesy of Slobodan C´urcˇic´).

Fig. 2c. B  yzantine Composite capital, 6th century. From Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Photo © Scala / Art Resource, NY).

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Fig. 3. L  eaf of an ivory diptych depicting the archangel Michael, 6th century. The British Museum, London (Photo © The Trustees of the British Museum).

One of the most dramatic manifestation of this phenomenon occurred by the 6th century, when three-dimensional sculptures ceased being made in the round, although the art of stone carving itself had not died out. Three-dimensional representations were reduced to two dimensions, whereas illusions of threedimensionality were used, albeit only selectively and sporadically (fig. 3). Tied to the theologically favored frontal figurative or non-figurative representations, the role of sculpture as a medium thus became substantially curtailed in favor of the medium of painting (fig. 4). Nowhere was this more apparent than in the realm of architectural representations. Single buildings, as well as repre­ sentations of complexes, even cities, were reduced to frontal images depicted two-dimensionally. Visual communication of spatial concepts (such as the use of perspective) disappeared, along with the rigorous use of physical scale, reflecting the


Fig. 4. Virgin and Child, Rabbula Gospels, Ms. Plut. I. 56 fol. 1v, ca. 586, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence, Italy (Photo © Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, MiBAC).

theological tenet that divinity could neither be represented nor contained and therefore lacked physical properties characteristic of classical naturalistic visual representations. By the end of the 5th century, this approach became virtually exclusive and was used in all media. Monumental wall mosaic representations, such as the representation of the “Palace of Theodoric” on the south nave wall of the church of S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, demonstrates the described characteristics of two-dimensional representations at their best (fig. 5). The flattened-out view of the Ostrogothic ruler’s palace, identifiable by its label, “Palatium,” displays many ambiguities as far as modern perception of architecture is concerned. Is this a view of the entrance into the palace, or is it a view of the interior of its main hall? Shown next to the palace is the city gate. Should this be understood as an indicator of the actual physical position of the palace relative to the city wall? Behind the palace, one sees a number of city’s

aesthetic shifts in late antique art: abstraction, dematerialization, and two-dimensionality

Fig. 5. M  osaic depicting the “Palace of Theodoric,” ca. 500. From the basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna (Photo © Scala / Art Resource, NY).

major buildings, basilicas, and domed structures, with a faint trace of the enclosing city wall in the background. Lacking an accurate sense of scale, the views of the palace and the city have been compressed here into a two-dimensional symbol, whose physical presence on the wall of a church in Ravenna commissioned by Theodoric is the only clue as to the identity of what is represented. Theodoric’s ambition of emulating the imperial capital Constantinople with the imperial palace within its walls suggests that the great prototype may have had a similar appearance, although no physical clues actually survive to confirm such a notion. The story of Theodoric and that of the art of contemporary Ravenna are among the finest testimonies of Late Antique art, which had undergone dramatic aesthetic shifts in its visual syntax, but not in its vocabulary. By 500 the main new aesthetic principles of Christian art were fully in place, though they never became verbally codified.

Bibliography Bichkov 1977; Kitzinger 1977; Age of Spirituality 1979; Johnson 1988; James – Webb 1991; Bychkov 1998; Elsner 1998; Bichkov 1999; Webb 1999; Saradi 2003; Elsner 2004; Saradi 2006; C´urcˇic´ 2010a; C´urcˇic´ 2010b; C´urcˇic´ 2011.

slobodan c´urcˇ ic´



1. Fragment of a Pavement Mosaic with Depiction of Autumn 4th century Marble, limestone, glass tesserae Overall h. 2.40 m., h. of panel 2.28 m., w. 1.30 m. Found in the Siregkella-Antonopoulou plot, Theatrou Street, Argos Argos, Storerooms of Argos Museum Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Conserved and set on new backing. Extensive damage to the righthand part; some minor damage to center and lower left side. The rectangular fragment of mosaic has one semicircular narrow side and is part of a larger composition, as can be seen from traces of a band of red and a band of polychrome simple guilloche on a black ground, which runs across the lower part. The panel is bounded by a wave pattern, red on a white ground, within a narrow green band, and a succession of ochrecolored tesserae. In the center, set against a white ground, is a life-size standing figure of a woman with her head turned to the left in three-quarter profile and her body twisting in an airy, dancing movement. She is wearing a full-length tunic, gold with gleaming white spangles and mauve outlines; a gray himation with green folds and black outlines; and short, red boots. On her head she wears a wreath of olive or laurel leaves and in her ears pendant earrings with pairs of pearls. Her right arm is bent at the elbow, and in her upturned hand she holds a bunch of grapes; the fold created in her himation by the way she is holding one end of it in her raised left hand is full of fruit: grapes, figs, a pomegranate, a pear, an apple, and either an orange or a peach. The use of darkcolored tesserae, as well as the frame and the way the tesserae


used for the ground are set in slanting, radiating rows in the upper part of the panel, creates a trompe-l’oeil concave surface, indicating that the figure is standing in a niche. The rendering of the movement and certain details, along with the skillful handling of graduated tones and shades of color, such as the contrasts between warm and cold hues, attest to the artistry of the craftsman. The report of the excavation remains unpublished (Assimakopoulou-Atzaka 1987, 54, n. 9), which makes dating problematic. Stylistic analysis and comparison with other mosaics from Argos and, more particularly, with the Dionysiac thiasos from the Bonoris’s plot (Kritzas 1973–74, 230–42, pls. 160, 161) suggest the mosaic was created in the 4th century. The figure’s draperies and the fruits she holds are characteristic features for a depiction of the personification of Autumn (Parrish 1984, 38–40; Abad Casal 1990, 513). This type of image is in the same category as the series of depictions of the Horae, which maintain a dancing pose and appear alone or forming a frieze (Abad Casal 1990, 513–15, nos. 15–40; Hanfmann 1951, nos. 115–130). The type is often found in wall paintings at Pompeii (Abad Casal 1990, nos. 15–25) or in sculpture of the 1st or 2nd century (Abad Casal 1990, nos. 35–37). It is less common in mosaics, although there are wellknown examples ranging from the mid-2nd to mid-3rd century (Abad Casal 1990, nos. 28–31). In mosaics from Greece there is a full-length depiction of the Seasons at Knossos (Gough 1972, 627, pl. 587 α, γ), although there they are depicted in the form of caryatids. In the Argos area we know of another mosaic with a depiction of the Seasons. The personification of Autumn, depicted in a square panel and inscribed ΜΕΘΟ/ΠΟΡΟ, takes the form of a young man, shown bust length and crowned with an elaborate wreath of fruits (Assimakopoulou-Atzaka 1987, no. 8, 56–58, pls. 38–45β). The subject of the Seasons is most developed in the 2nd century. After the mid-2nd century, they are frequently depicted on mosaics in Italy from whence the theme was transposed to the mosaics of the eastern Roman Empire and of North Africa. However, the subject continued to be popular in the early Christian period, too (Markoulaki 1987, 55–56). Autumn, the season of the grape harvest, was thought of in many respects as the most propitious and fruitful season. The Seasons symbolize the continual renewal of nature and its fruitfulness, which can be converted into material wealth. In this respect, they are the expression of temporum felicitas (the felicity of the times), an idea that reflects imperial propaganda from as early as the time of the Severan emperors. The Seasons were consequently considered symbols of good fortune, and depicting them was thought to bring good luck and material wealth to the building thus decorated (Kiillerich 1998, 25–27, 31). A. Panagiotopoulou Bibliography Hanfmann 1951; Gough 1972; Kritzas 1973–74; Parrish 1984; Assimakopoulou-Atzaka 1987; Markoulaki 1987; Abad Casal 1990; Kiillerich 1998.

Photos © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism








2a–g. This unique collection of sculptures was found in a large urban domus located close to the forum of Corinth. They came from a small room, which, to judge from the painted decoration on its walls, may have been a household shrine rather than a place for storage. The house was built early in the 4th century and burned down toward the end of the same century. Several pieces in the collection, such as the two figures of Asklepios, the Herakles (not on display), and the Europa, reflect aspects of divinities relevant to the immediate region, whereas the Roma and the Herakles also refer to the capital. Although several pieces were antiques, the Roma, the larger Artemis, and the larger Asklepios may have been new acquisitions. The Roma and the larger Asklepios appear to be miniatures of cult images. The 4th century is the beginning of a period of transition between antiquity and the medieval world and between the worship of Hellenic deities and Christianity. This process in Corinth, the capital of Achaia, seems to have lasted well into the 6th century, when large basilica churches, with generous space for catechumens and large baptisteries, were constructed. The Hellenic deities represented in the domus reflect the religious preferences of a wealthy Corinthian household in a period when the administration was increasingly prohibitive of such things. G. Sanders

2a. Statuette of Artemis Mid-3rd century or later Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.121 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-010

Single fragment, complete head, most of neck; top of hair and top-knot burned. Roughly one-third life-size head of a female, head pulled to right and turned back. Long hair, bound by plain fillet, pulled back from face in wavy locks, rendered by parallel wavy incised lines over crown, folded into a chignon at back of head with hair hanging down below this, and in a top knot above forehead. Oval face with low sloping brow, long incised eyebrow with eye set just below brow. Long incised line articulating upper lid, grooves surrounding ball, deep drill hole at inner corners. Straight nose flaring at tip. Small pursed mouth with lips separated by drilled channel and drilled corners. Round chin, tips of ears projecting below hair, round neck with Venus-ring at lower break. All skin surfaces polished. Red adhesive for gilding of hair, spots of which are preserved, leaving a reserve band for the fillet. Eyebrows and irises also have red adhesive. This head of Artemis is one of ten fragments preserved of the original statuette. These include the base, both feet, the left leg, the lower arms, and pieces of drapery and indicate that she is an Artemis of the Rospigliosi type, similar to a smaller Artemis (not on display) in the same assemblage. A curving strut on the right arm suggests that Artemis may have been portrayed with both arms outstretched holding a bow and arrow. Both hands are held in fists with holes through them for these attributes. It probably resembled a late 4th-century statuette of Diana found in the Roman villa of Petit-Corbin at Saint-Georges-de-Montagne in the Gironde, France. A Diana from the sanctuary of Jupiter Doliochenus on the Aventine has a similar configuration. G. Sanders Bibliography LIMC II, 1984, 838, no. 338, pls. 621 and 850, no. 376, pl. 625, s.v. Artemis / Diana [E. Simon and G. Bauchhenss]; Sanders 2005, 420 –29; Stirling 2005, 31–34, figs. 4–7; Stirling 2008, 30 –31, 113–19, figs. 1, 17–19.


2b. Statuette of Asklepios and Telesphoros 3rd or 4th century Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.207 m., h. of figure 0.189 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-012 Six joining fragments, complete except for right lower arm, staff, possible support by right side. Some surfaces blackened by fire. Small statuette of Asklepios standing with weight on left leg, right bent but foot on same plane as left foot. Head and upper torso twisted somewhat to right, arms at side, left bent. Wears a thick fillet with diagonal incisions around head. Hair neck-length, with thick curly locks framing face down to below ears; over crown, central incised part with cross lines for locks. Low sloping brow with incised line, horizontal shallow-set eyes, short nose, mouth framed by moustache and short beard; single long lock or tail of fillet falls over either shoulder. Semi-draped in a cloak that hangs vertically from left shoulder to cover left arm, wrapped around torso just below pectorals, twisted and gathered hem passed over left arm (not rendered) with cloth falling down left side in a series of stacked V-shaped folds. Over rest of body series of stacked V-shaped folds over abdomen, longer folds from left side to right knee and ankle. Slender, knotted staff tucked under Asklepios’s right shoulder and resting on the ground by his right foot with coils of snake wrapped around lower part. The hair and beard have red pigment with traces of preserved gilding. Standing beside Asklepios is baby Telesphoros, frontal with both arms bent, wearing a mantle over head and covering whole body; two columns of folds generated from his two bent arms. Plinth has vertical faces, curved across front, flaring on right side, straight on back, left side. A separate, non-joining fragment of the statuette preserves the right hand of Asklepios holding an egg and the head of the snake. The two-dimensionality, flat surfaces, and surface treat­ ment are all suggestive of Roman and late Roman ivory carving. The pose is a version of the Asklepios Giustini attested in several other examples at Corinth. When Telesphoros accompanies Asklepios, the latter is frequently portrayed in this pose. This version of the Asklepios Giustini emerged in the second half of the 2nd century and is typically found in the eastern Mediterranean. G. Sanders Bibliography Grimm 1989, 170; Sirano 1994, 218; Sanders 2005, 420–29; Stirling 2008, 122–26, figs. 1, 23–25.

2c. S tatuette of Asklepios Enthroned Second half 2nd century Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.423 m., h. of figure 0.348 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-008 Numerous joining fragments: figure complete except right hand, left forearm, hand; throne: missing most of back left leg, small parts front legs, cross straps of seat; upper part of snake and head missing. Asklepios is seated on throne, leaning forward with his head turned slightly to proper right; right arm down, forearm diagonal, left arm raised; left foot pulled back and turned slightly out. Asklepios wears plain round wreath; hair parted in middle with short curls to either side, lengthening around face with longish curls to shoulders; has mustache and curly beard; himation hangs vertically from left shoulder and upper arm with zigzag border and V-shaped folds; crosses back, and pulled over legs, tucked in under left leg, from which a fall of two zigzag folds; overlap folds gathered in groups with deep drill channels separating groups; folds pulled from left knee to right lower leg. He wears elaborate network sandals that tie above ankle. Feet rest on large footstool with squat animal feet and central groove, top rasped. High-backed throne, back face incised in squares, has projecting wings, elaborate lyre-shaped legs with three groups of double volutes; figure seated on cushion. A square base supports throne, with moldings at bottom and top; fascia, quarter round, surface rasped. Large snake coiled against right side of throne, head originally under Asklepios’s right hand. Base is rectangular, profile; high fascia at top, bottom, narrow; fasciae framing concave channel on three sides, back flat; rasp and flat chisel on top, flat on sides. Drill outlines Asklepios’s torso on seat. Figure highly polished. Red adhesive for gilding preserved on hair, fillet reserved, mustache and beard, pupils; borders of himation; outline on volutes of throne and snake. Asklepios enthroned is often considered to represent the chryselephantine cult image of the god made by Thrasymedes of Paros for the temple at Epidauros described by Pausanias (2.27.2). An Epidaurian coin of the second half of the 4th century bc is thought to represent this statue, which, like the Panagia statuette, shows the god holding a staff in his left arm and reaching out with his right hand to a coiled snake. The white marble and gilded surfaces of the Panagia statuette are suggestive of an ivory and gold prototype, and it may well be a “copy” of the image nearby at Epidauros. Indeed, both the design of the throne and its palmette decoration resemble the throne types commonly represented in the 5th and 4th centuries bc; see, for instance, the decorated legs of a 4th-century bc throne from a chamber tomb at Eretria. The profile of Asklepios in a relief at Epidauros shows the god seated in a throne with a profile and back similar to the Corinth statuette. G. Sanders


2e. S tatuette of Dionysos and Panther

Bibliography Richter 1966, 23–28, fig. 116; LIMC II, 1984, 874, no. 84, pl. 641; 871–72, nos. 44–51, pls. 636, 637; Sanders 2005, 420 –29; Stirling 2008, 97–101, figs. 1, 5–7.

2d. Statuette of Roma Mid-3rd century or later Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.592 m., h. of figure 0.542 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-007 Many joining fragments, essentially complete; missing several details. Left wrist badly burned. Statuette, about one-third life-size, of a seated figure, head turned slightly to left, right foot turned out slightly, left foot pulled back, right arm down and out, palm tilted and open, left arm out and raised to height of helmet. Wears Corinthian helmet with triple crest, each a plain brush with groove down top, central crest higher than rest; cheek pieces up. Long wavy locks pulled back from face, curly locks over either shoulder. Face asymmetrical, left half flatted with rounded outline; oval with low brow, long incised eyebrow, close-set eyes with groove beneath brow, groove separating both lids from ball, drill at inner corner. Drilled nostrils, small bow-shaped mouth, drilled corners. Semi-draped with peplos with long overfold, pinned at left shoulder, right breast bare; unpinned part gathered between breasts and draped around right side; tied below breasts, covers right leg to above ankle, left leg bare. Over this a mantle hangs over left shoulder in front, falling in back in mass of stacked V-folds down left side, catenaries across back, pulled across lap in front, and hanging in a mass of zigzag folds between legs. Wears boots with roll at top. Baldric hanging from right shoulder, sword at left side. Sits on stool with plump pillow, four animal legs; heavy rectangular support under seat. Rectangular base with narrow fascia at bottom, top, and broad concave channel in center, on three faces; back smooth. Drapery has flattened and tubular folds, incised creases, drilled channels. Rectangular strut from right hand to stool, left wrist to shoulder. Drilled hole in right palm where metal(?) patera originally attached. Whole surface polished. Red adhesive for gold leaf, of which traces are still visible, on hair, eyebrows, pupil, drapery borders. This image of Roma is typical of her portrayal on coinage of the eastern provinces of the empire. She resembles Athena Parthenos, but her clothing identifies her as belonging to the “draped Amazon Roma” type wearing a hunting chiton and high boots with one breast exposed. In sculpture, this type is more typical of the western Roman provinces and appears only at Aphrodisias, Corinth, and perhaps Nikopolis in the east. A seated female in Amazonian dress from the pediment of Temple E (Temple of Octavia?) at Corinth is also thought to represent Roma.

Mid-3rd century or later Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.341 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-011 Numerous joining fragments. Complete except for right arm below deltoid, left elbow, most of left hand, muzzle of panther and chips. Statuette of Dionysos, standing with weight on left leg, left hip thrust out, right leg flexed, foot back and turned out 45 degrees, heel raised. Head turned three-quarters right, shoulders level, right arm at side, left resting on tree support, with hand flexed. Long hair pulled back into a knot at nape of neck, bound by strophion, with large wavy clumps (wreath?) framing face; long lock hanging over and along either shoulder. Heart-shaped face with broad low forehead, sharp brows, long narrow, horizontal eyes with very heavy upper lids, straight nose, flaring nostrils, small mouth tilted up to right, with lips together, pointed chin. Soft youthful body, nude except for painted fawn skin (nebris), sloping shoulders, chest thrown forward, small pectorals, long slender legs. Wears half-boots with folded flaps, toes exposed; rectangular strut at top of right hip and thigh to anchor right arm and hand. The left forearm rests on tree covered with drapery and a clump of grapes and ivy at mid-height all painted red. The missing upper right arm hung apart and parallel to the body. In his right hand Dionysos holds a kantharos from which he pours wine. To the right a crouching panther with right foreleg raised, head tilted up, ill-defined hindquarters. Plinth roughly rectangular, thicker at back than front; top roughly picked, front worked with rasp, sides with point, back with long oblique strokes of point. Dionysos’s skin lightly polished; drill in corners of eyes, ear, behind long locks, outlining features on tree, and separating forelegs from background; flat chisel on tree. Dionysos wears a red painted fawn skin diagonally from right shoulder across chest to waist with legs of skin hanging down over hips. Red paint in hair. This languorous Dionysos does not conform to any particular type in the large and varied iconography of the god, although aspects have parallels in other representations. Dionysos also has no known special association with Corinth, although Pausanias mentions two gilded wooden statues of him in the forum. G. Sanders Bibliography LIMC III, 1986, 435–36, nos. 119–124; Sanders 2005, 420–29; Stirling 2008, 119–22, figs. 1, 20–22.

G. Sanders Bibliography Sanders 2005, 420–29, fig. 16.4; Stirling 2008, 108–13, figs. 1, 14–15.


2f. S tatuette of Pan 2nd century (?) Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.144 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-014 Head intact except for very tip of nose. Surface heavily blackened. Crack through bridge of nose to left side of head. Chip in chin. Head of youthful male turned sharply to right and possibly tilted down somewhat. Hair short with central part, loose curls curling back from forehead or down, vestigial fillet circling head and indenting hair, short flatter curling locks over crown and back of head, separated by drill channels. Two protuberances project from above center of forehead (horns?). Triangular forehead with pronounced crease, projecting brows, deep-set large eyes with heavy upper and thin lower lids, small drilled hole at inner corners; straight nose with flaring nostrils; short, dimpled upper lip, lips parted by drill channel, deep dimple below lower lip, pronounced chin; high-boned cheeks, flattening toward mouth; ears partly covered by hair, summarily rendered. Short neck with Adam’s apple, curving out to finished edge; head originally socketed into torso; sides and underside of tenon worked with point. Coarse rasp work on underside of chin and side of neck.

right knee to left breast; second long fold falls vertically from side of left breast to hem; mass of folds gathered over left forearm to fall on either side of arm to nearly feet. She wears her hair parted in the middle with wavy locks descending to ears, mass of bun indicated under mantle at rear. A few incised lines to indicate strands. Oval face, low triangular forehead, brow ridge straight, eyes horizontal and shallow, straight nose, small mouth. Plinth: use of drill to create deep space between sides of face and veil, also possibly for folds of veil, corners of mouth. Surfaces of plinth lightly polished. The identification of this figure as Europa is suggested by a statuette of the same type in New York with the inscription ΕΥΡΩΠΗ on the base (ΜΜΑ 24.97.31). Otherwise this type has been thought to portray Aspasia, the mistress of Perikles and, more recently, Hera, Aphrodite Sossandra, Penelope, or Hestia. The protype for the type dates to the second quarter of the 5th century bc. It is a common subject in Roman sculpture with more than thirty known examples, including three others at Corinth. Although Europa is popularly associated with Crete, she also has strong Peloponnesian links as, according to Praxilla of Sikyon, the mother of Karneios. East of Corinth there is a district which in antiquity and still today is called Kraneion (the transposition of the “r” for the “a” in its spelling is not an unusual one). Furthermore, Europa is associated with the Helloteia, a festival for Hellotis, who was a daughter of King Timander of Corinth. G. Sanders

G. Sanders Bibliography


Sanders 2005, 420–29; Stirling 2008, 95–97, figs. 1, 4.

Ridgway 1970, 65–67; Sanders 2005, 420–29; Stirling 2008, 93–95, figs. 1, 3.

2g. Statuette of Europa 1st or early 2nd century Athenian workshop Marble H. 0.345 m., h. of figure 0.314 m. From the Panagia Field domus, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, S-1999-004 Three joining fragments. Missing the left hand and some chips. Statuette of veiled female who stands with weight on left leg, right bent, foot extended and turned out slightly; head turned three-quarters to left, left arm bent, forearm extended three-quarters to side, right arm originally folded against breast. Wears a chiton, fine folds of which visible over ankles and feet, falling to plinth; over this a long mantle pulled up to cover top of head and body to above ankles. Mantle pulled around right side to cover arm completely, free end then thrown over left shoulder and arm, falling down to area of buttocks in a series of parallel V-shaped folds generated by bent elbow, and gathered hem in back. A long V-shaped fold extends from right elbow to


3a–d. Remains of the Sacrifice of a Pig Early 6th century Found in the so-called House of Proklos on the south slope of the Athens Akropolis Athens, Akropolis Museum, a) 1955 ΝΑΛ 258, b) 1955 ΝΑΚ 717, c) 1955 ΝΑΚ 714, d) 1955 ΝΑΔ 98 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Further indications of a pagan chthonic cult being practiced in the house come from the re-use of some 4th-century bc reliefs in its easternmost room: a small Κybele in her shrine (naiskos), and a relief of a chthonic deity imbedded in a niche above a funerary table with a relief depiction of assembled philosophers on one side, probably used in this case as an altar, have led to the room being interpreted either as a house shrine for the worship of the Mother of the Gods (Kybele) or as a place for performing rites in memory of dead philosophers. The sacrifice of the pig could be connected with the cult of Kybele, who at that late period seems to be connected to Demeter, as attested in the hymn to the Mother of the Gods, written in the 4th century by the emperor and Neoplatonic philosopher Julian and also by two taurobolic altars of the same period on which the two deities appear side by side. Proklos himself—as we know from his successor and biographer Marinos—prayed particularly frequently to the Mother of the Gods and never failed to purify himself every month in accordance with the practices of her cult. The dating of the find to the early 6th century allows us to assume a possible connection between this sacrifice and the events that followed the closing of the philosophy schools in Athens (Hällström 1994, 141–60) after Justinian’s well-known edict of 529, most probably the flight of the seven teachers of the Neoplatonic School to Persia. I. Karra * No precise parallels for the goblet have been found in the literature. However similar goblets have been discovered in the excavations for the new Akropolis Museum on the Makygianni site, all in a 6th-

This find contained several elements: a) an unused, late 5th-century Attic lamp imitating an Asia Minor type with a depiction of a winged eros (Karivieri 1994; Karivieri 1996); b) seven identical 6th-century two-handled goblets, of which one* is on display; c) an early 6th-century one-handled jug (Agora V, 1959; Manoli 2010); d) an iron knife; part of a dish, and the bones of a year-old piglet. The remains of the sacrifice were found buried in a small pit in the westernmost room of a luxurious Late Antique residence, which has been identified as the home and school premises of the philosopher Proklos, head of the Neoplatonic school of Athens between 437 and 485, and his successors. The sacrifice was stabbed and its blood was presumably allowed to flow for the gods. With the sacrificial knife still in its neck, the pig was buried in the earth, together with the vessels and probably the remains of some sacred meal with seven symposiasts, as suggested by the seven goblets. The depositing of the sacrificial animal in the earth recalls the offerings of pigs to Demeter during the Thesmophoria festivals, while the use of its blood in purification rituals was intended to produce a mystical connection between initiate and deity. The pig was considered a suitable animal for sacrifice to the chthonic gods by the Neoplatonists too, as they believed that by its very nature it belonged wholly to the earth.

century context. Bibliography Fairbanks 1900, 241–59 (for the chthonic cults); Agora V, 1959, 114, pl. 31, M 322; Karivieri 1994, 115–39, 133, n. 125, figs. 32a–b; Karivieri 1996, 65, 158, figs. 17, 18; Baumer 2001, 55–69; Brouskari 2002, 62–75; Manoli 2010, 637, 646, fig. 39 (6th c.).


and prepares to strike it with his club. The doomed monster wraps its tail around his left ankle. Variation in the patina around the edge of the plaque suggests that it once was framed in some manner, almost certainly as part of a set of the Twelve Labors. The setting could have been anything from a chair to a chariot. Even after Constantine made Christianity the official state religion of the empire, worship of the pagan gods persisted for decades, and the fame of such legendary heroes as Herakles, though diminished, never entirely faded. Reverence for Herakles was especially persistent, for like Christ, he overcame death itself and ascended to heaven to sit at the side of his father. J. M. Padgett Bibliography Weitzmann 1973, 6, 12, 24, 31, fig. 48; Shelton 1977, 160– 61, no. 137; Cˇurcˇic´ – St. Clair 1986, 69, no. 43, color plate B; Swan 2010, 37–38, fig. 9.

4. Plaque Depicting Herakles and the Hydra 4th century Roman Bronze, inlaid with copper, brass, and silver H. 0.188 m., w. 0.099 m. Princeton University Art Museum; Museum purchase; Carl Otto von Kienbusch, Jr., Memorial Collection Fund, y1971-35 Photo © Trustees of Princeton University

Pieces missing from the left side and upper right corner. Some loss of inlays. Mottled corrosion. On this extraordinary plaque, Herakles is represented performing the second of his Twelve Labors, killing the Hydra, a gigantic, multiheaded serpent. The figures are inlaid in different metals to achieve a polychrome effect, a rare Roman technique that found its greatest expression in the 4th century; a plaque of this type in the Louvre (MNC 1012), of similar date, shape, and size, features a victorious charioteer. Herakles’ body is inlaid in reddish copper; the skin of the Nemean lion, which he wears as a hooded cloak, is in brass. His club is of silver, as are the heads of the Hydra and some of the incised modeling lines. The monster’s body is inlaid with alternating bands of silver, copper, and a black material that is not true niello, as it contains no sulfur. The colors add vigor to an already dynamic compo­sition, with Herakles propping a knee on the Hydra’s writhing body, a stance that, as Kathleen Shelton has noted, is borrowed from standard depictions of the hero’s battle with the Keryneian hind. Amid snapping fangs, Herakles seizes one of the Hydra’s heads


5. Taurobolic Altar Dedicated to the Great Goddess Kybele

and Attis Late 4th century Attic workshop Pentelic marble H. 0.38 m., l. 0.40 m., w. 0.37 m. Found in Attica, at Chalandri (ancient Phlya) Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 1747 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The altar has survived intact, but has some chips on the upper edges. The little lions that were once at the four corners of the upper part are also missing. In the middle of the upper part there is a deep hole in which a torch was set. There are reliefs on three sides.

On one side, under a festoon with bucrania (ox skulls), Kybele and Demeter are depicted seated on a throne. The former is holding a bowl and a drum. In her left hand Demeter is holding a scepter, around which is coiled a snake, and in her right hand she holds ears of corn. Between the goddesses is a lion. A man wearing a short chiton and a chlamys and holding a lighted torch stands next to Demeter. To the left of Kybele stands a young woman dressed in a tunic and himation; she carries two inverted torches. According to one view, the standing woman is Kore (Persephone) and the man is Iacchos (Dionysos). On the second side Kybele, wearing a polos headdress, is seated on a throne. Next to her a lion cub is turning its head to look behind it. In her left hand Kybele holds a drum, and she leans her right hand on the shoulder of Attis, who turns his head toward the goddess. He wears a chiton and a chlamys with the characteristic Phrygian pilos on his head. The figures are flanked by two palm trees, and some sort of hanging is draped over their heads. Leaning against the body of the palm tree on the left is a drum, and higher up hangs a pipe; two castanets are suspended from the bird on the right. On the third side, two crossed torches are depicted with two palm trees and various symbols (e.g., an oinochoe, a phiale, a drum) at the outer edges. On the fourth side of the altar, there is a carved inscription, from which we learn that the monument was an offering from the priest Mousonios, after the festival of Taurobolium (ritual sacrifice of a bull) performed in Athens under the archon Hermogenes. On the basis of the inscription the altar is dated to the late 4th century (386–87). There is another such altar in the National Archaeological Museum (in Athens) with similar scenes but with different facts in the inscription. Both altars are linked with the eastern (Phrygian) provenance of the cult of the Great Goddess, Kybele, and Attis, and more particularly with the arcane festival of the Taurobolium. This festival, which is also an example of religious and cult syncretism in the Late Antique period, was made official by the emperor Claudius and seems to have survived into the 4th century. N. Kaltsas Bibliography Svoronos 1911, 474–84, pl. 80; Vermaseren 1982, 117, no. 390, pls. 120 –122; Stavridi 1984, 189–90; Kaltsas 2002, 368–69.

6. Grave Stele 2nd century Attic workshop Pentelic marble H. 1.15 m., w. 0.52 m. Provenance unknown (formerly in the Library of Hadrian) Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 1308 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Preserved intact. Shaped like a miniature temple (naiskos) with antae, epistyle, and crowned with a pediment. The pediment has stylized, palmette-shaped acroteria and a cylindrical box with a conical lid carved in relief on the tympanum. Two figures are depicted in the naiskos. On the left is a man, frontal and standing, dressed in a chiton with a long hima­ tion that covers his whole body and his arms. His left arm is at his side, while the right, bent at the elbow, is across his chest. On the right a woman, also frontal and standing, her head slightly turned to the right, is wearing a long, ankle-length tunic with a voluminous himation, the ends of which are gathered up at her chest and tied between her two breasts to form the characteristic knot of Isis. Her left hand, at her side, holds a small jar, and in her raised right hand she holds a rattle. Both are symbols of the Egyptian goddess Isis and features of her cult. Consequently, the figure is depicted as a priestess of Isis. From the inscription carved on the epistyle we learn that the stele


belonged to a couple: Epigonos, son of Apollonios from Koile, and Elate, daughter of Menodoros from the deme of Berneikidae. The depiction of Elate as a priestess of Isis is one of many that exist on Attic grave steles (there are about sixty-five known to date). Thus, the active participation of women in this public religious function is made known. The office of priestess was the only public role women could take on, and it was a symbol of social distinction. In the Roman period, women born of important Athenian families took part in public life as priestesses or their acolytes. N. Kaltsas Bibliography Conze 1922, 57, no. 1962, pl. 422; Muehsam 1952, 67, 72, 104, 105; Walters 1988, 7, 20, 29, 38, 52, 76–77, pl. 24d; von Moock 1998, 6, 27, 84–85, 135 no. 266, pl. 41b; Karapanagiotou 2001, 369, no. 324.

Mithras originated as the Zoroastrian sun god and became the preferred deity of a mystery cult that was formed in Rome in the 1st century. The cult became quite popular throughout the Roman Empire, especially among soldiers, although it died out in the 4th century. Cult images of Mithras depict the god slaying a bull. At Dura Europos, a 2nd-century relief of the tauroctony (bull-slaying) was placed in the niche as the focus of worship and was surrounded by narrative paintings. The banqueting scene was profoundly important to the cult, as the communal feast was its central ritual. According to myth, after Mithras had slain the bull, he and the sun god Sol feasted on the animal. Animal bones found at the site suggest that there may have been some kind of ritual reenactment of this narrative. The Mithraeum was originally part of a house that was converted for use by the mystery cult in the 2nd century. This scene was part of the second phase of decoration in the early 3rd century and was covered by architecture in a later renovation. K. Marsengill Bibliography The Dark Ages 1937, no. 22; Rostovtzeff et al. 1939, 102–3, pl. xiii, 3; Early Christian Art 1947, 134, no. 687, pl. lxxxvi; Cumont 1975, 177.

7. Wall Painting Fragments ca. 210 Syrian Paint on plaster H. 0.475 m., w. 0.60 m. From Middle Mithraeum, Dura-Europos Yale University Art Gallery, Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos, 1935.99a Photo © Yale University Art Gallery, Dura-Europos Collection

These are some of the fragmentary remains of a much larger program. The fresco depicts the gods Mithras and Sol reclining on cushions next to one another at a banquet. Mithras, at the right, holds a drinking horn called a rhyton with his left hand and places his right hand behind Sol. Both are shown with short, curly hair and have similar features with an emphasis on their large eyes. They both wear identical Persian-style dress: tunics with elaborate designs, gemmed collars, and cloaks draped over their shoulders and clasped with circular brooches. Mithras wears a conical Phrygian cap, whereas Sol’s head is encircled by a nimbus.


8. Impost Capital 5th or 6th century Corinthian workshop (?) Marble H. 0.20 m., w. 0.39 m.; bottom w. 0.33 m.; top l. 0.70 m.; bottom l. 0.53 m. From the west parodos of the theater, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, A 392 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Complete, missing some chips. This is an impost capital for a compound pier or column. The rounded column capital is decorated with three sharply carved acanthus leaves. The beveled pier capital is decorated with a menorah with a low stand in relief, flanked on either side by a menorah with disk stand, a palm branch, and a citron.

Although the seven-branched candelabrum is found in Christian contexts, sometimes with a palm branch, the combination of candelabrum (menorah), palm branch (lulab), and citron (etrog) is wholly Jewish. Imposts such as this, with a rectangular upper surface, generally crowned a vertical window divider and acted as the springer for an arched double or triple window aperture. This particular piece almost certainly came from the window of a Synagogue. The etrog is a citron held in the left hand during the Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacle). The lulab is fashioned from sprigs of myrtle and willow bound to the stem of a palm branch and is held in the right hand. During the recital of the Hallel (Psalms 113–18), the lulab is shaken toward the cardinal points of the compass, up and down, forward and backward. G. Sanders Bibliography Scranton 1957, 116, no. 130, pl. 30.

In good condition, apart from the break at the tip of the nose and on part of the left-hand side of the bust at the back. The integral, cylindrical base is only partly worked. On the hollow back of the bust, which has been crudely worked, is a vertical tenon. The bust includes the subject’s shoulders and chest and is almost semicircular at the bottom. The man wears only a himation, which falls in folds, covering his left side and leaving the chest and right shoulder bare. The subject is a bearded man of mature years who is turning his head to the left. His face is long and thin, and the head shows advanced signs of baldness with hair growing only at the back. Flame-shaped locks adorn his temples, whereas the hair of his beard is finer and longer. The deep wrinkles on the forehead, the large, deep-set eyes, and the flabby skin on the cheeks betray his age. His facial features, the mild, contemplative expression on his face, and his mode of dress place the piece in a series of portrait sculptures from the first half of the 3rd century, which come mainly from Rome or thereabouts and depict various intellectuals or “philosophers.” Portraits of the late classical and Hellenistic periods depict intellectuals according to a particular model known as αχi’των εν ιματi’ω (wearing a himation without a tunic or chiton), with a wrinkled forehead, a beard, and a contemplative expression. The corresponding images of thinkers of the mid-empire, sometimes shown holding a scroll, may not necessarily depict professional philosophers, but rather members of the upper classes of their local communities, usually cultivated men who could thus emphasize their education. So it is likely that the portrait bust from Thessaloniki depicts some specific member of the local elite. K. Tzanavari Bibliography Zanker 1995, 209ff.; Hoff 1996, 43–47; Schefold 1997; Danguillier 2001, 55–58, 249, no. 128, figs. 18–20; Voutiras 2001; Catalogue ΙΙ, 200–201, no. 297, figs. 928–32 [E. Voutiras].

9. Portrait Bust of a Bearded Man First half 3rd century Thessaloniki workshop White marble, large-grained, possibly from Thasos Bust: h. 0.64 m.; head: h. 0.29 m. Found built into the city wall of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 11204 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism


expression, however, could equally well suit a priest. For this reason, the notion that this particular figure depicts Plutarch from Chaironeia, a curator and priest of Apollo at Delphi in the 2nd century, has been almost universally accepted. Thanks to his writings we have learned important details about the sanctuary at Delphi and its oracle-giving procedure. Nevertheless, this identification cannot be confirmed, as no corresponding inscription has survived. By contrast another herm (headless, made of Pentelic marble, also on display in the Delphi Museum, inv. no. 4070), did bear a portrait of Plutarch and an informative dedicatory inscription (in elegaic couplets) on the body of the stele. These two finds are not related. For lack of written evidence, we can only surmise that the marble bust was a portrait of some Neoplatonic philosopher, as Frederik Poulsen interpreted it. E. C. Partida Bibliography Poulsen 1928, 245–55; Bergmann 1977, 87–88; Croissant 1991, 135–36; Lefèvre 2002, no. 151; Partida 2004, 86.

10. Bust from a Herm Late 2nd–mid 3rd century Parian marble H. 0.47 m., w. 0.34 m., max. circumference of head 0.75 m. Found opposite the southeast corner of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi Delphi, Archaeological Museum, 5667 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Preserved in excellent condition, apart from the chipped nose. The identity of the pensive, bearded man has been much deliberated by scholars: might some famous personage from Late Antiquity one day be recognized in it? The anonymous sculptor has shown his twofold talent in carving the white Parian marble, alternating the smooth, shiny, almost alabaster-like surfaces of the face and the neck with the plasticity of the short, well-groomed hair, which is combed in various directions and the beard with its wavy locks. Basing their judgment on the treatment of the marble, the rendering of the iris, and the shaping of the hair, scholars have dated the bust to between the end of the 2nd century and the second half of the 3rd. Despite the fact that the bust has been compared with portraits of Greek magistrates and Roman emperors (it has been thought to resemble Gallienus in particular), the contemplative expression and the meticulously groomed hair are more reminiscent of the iconography of philosophers. More especially the long, thick beard (πω’γων βαθu’ς) characterizes the adherents of the Neoplatonic school. It is therefore possible that we are confronting a bust of Plotinos. His sweet, thoughtful expression conveys a sense of futility, and his gaze does not look the viewer in the eye. By contrast, the man appears to be immersed in his thoughts, like a poet or an intellectual. The spirituality of the


11. Portrait Bust of a Philosopher Early 5th century Thessaloniki workshop White marble, large-grained, probably from Thasos Bust: h. 0.515 m.; head: h. 0.27 m. Found in the south stoa (Cryptoporticus) in the ancient agora of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 6100 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Parts of the nose and ears and the base of the bust, which was made out of a separate piece of marble, are missing. The front surface is polished, and vertical tenons are found on the hollow back. The bust depicts a man of mature years with a long beard and his hair combed over from back to front, framing the forehead and the temples. In the facial features the large eyes and deep wrinkles predominate. He wears a tunica, a second lighter-weight chiton and toga, part of which was worn across the body (contabulatio); on the right-hand side, its attached border can be discerned in a groove once probably filled with red-painted stucco or colored glass. Certain typological and stylistic details allow us to ascertain that the portrait is a reworking of an earlier version from about the mid-3rd century, which also coincides with the period when this type of toga with separate border was worn. The calm expression on the face of the subject, marked by an intense spirituality, and the wide-open eyes suggest a connection with a series of portraits from the Theodosian period depicting philosophers. This portrait type was widespread throughout the empire, known from late 4th- or early 5th-century examples from Athens, Constantinople, and Aphrodisias in Asia Minor, all places thought to be connected with centers for the teaching of classical studies, which were still flourishing even at that date. This would explain its re-use by Christians, who saw an apostle or saint in the face and placed it in the Cryptoporticus of the ancient agora, a place where the Christian religion was being practiced, which was furnished with wall paintings depicting Saints Kosmas and Damian in the 6th century, and where their cult probably continued into the 7th century. The attempts to obliterate any hint in the draperies of the bust’s Roman features, seen in the alterations to the toga, have been viewed by scholars as aimed at creating a new, Christian interpretation of the bust (interpretatio Christiana). This process was probably completed by a cross, painted on the forehead or engraved on the now lost base of the bust. The practice of marking things with a cross, aimed at erasing the pagan roots of ancient art, proved quite widespread in the Roman world, while similar examples can also be found in Macedonia. K. Tzanavari Bibliography Grabar 1963, 5–15; Vermeule 1968, 368, fig. 184; Smith 1990; Delivorrias 1991; Zanker 2000, 181–86, 230 –34, 288–300; Kaltsas 2002, 373, n. 789; Catalogue ΙΙ, 219–23, no. 308, figs. 979–982 [G. Despinis]; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 2006, 351, fig. 37; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 2008.

12. Bowl Base with Saints Peter and Paul Late 4th century Roman Glass, gold leaf Diam. 0.099 m., w. 0.006 m. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1916 16.174.3 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

The edge and foot of the bowl have been cut. The right side is chipped. The gold glass features a medallion with an image of the apostles Peter and Paul standing on either side of a gem-studded column surmounted by a chi-rho. The apostles wear identical tunics and mantles. Each slightly raises his right hand in a gesture of speech and places his left hand at his waist. The words PETRUS and PAULUS identify each saint; however, for Christians who were familiar with them, such an inscription would have hardly been necessary. Already by the mid-4th century, the appearances of the two saints, both of whom had major churches dedicated to them at their tombs just outside the walls of Rome, were well established. Peter was recognizable by his short hair and beard and Paul by his balding head and long beard. Glass bowls were frequently decorated by applying gold leaf to the glass, engraving the decoration in the gold, and then placing another layer of glass on top of the gold. Most examples have been found in the catacombs outside Rome, where the bottoms of glass bowls were embedded in the plaster used to seal the loculi (grave cells) in which bodies were laid. The function of gold glass vessels before they were used in the catacombs is not known for certain. It is possible that they were given as gifts at special occasions during the lifetimes of individuals and then re-used as tomb decoration. Unlike the other example of gold glass in the exhibition (cat. no. 135), which represents a male


figure at the center of Christian scenes (presumably the deceased), this does not feature a representation of the individual buried within the loculus. The column and chi-rho likely symbolize Christ himself and the foundation of the Church, over which the two apostles have been given authority, a symbolic traditio legis (giving of the law). Over the course of the 4th century, images of saints became prevalent, indicating a shift toward an emphasis on images of holy persons that accompanied the rise of icons in Christian religious practices. At tombs, images of saints may have signified their holy protection over the deceased. K. Marsengill Bibliography Vopel 1899, no. 375; Avery 1921, 174, fig. 3; Morey 1959, no. 455;

holding a staff in his left hand, probably a cruciform one, and touches the central cross with his right hand. The head and shoulders of this figure, as well as the top of the staff, are missing. In the border between two incised lines an inscription in evenly sized (H. 0.035–0.040 m.) capital letters has been carved in reverse: [ΕΥΛ]ΟΓΙΑ Κ[ΥΡΙ]ΟΥ ΕΦ ΙΜΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΝΔΡΕΟΥ . . . (the blessing of the Lord and of the saints Andrew . . . [be] upon us]. The two figures have been identified as the apostles Andrew and Paul, who founded the church in Thessaloniki. According to the inscription, the object was used to produce eulogiai (pilgrim tokens), that is, souvenirs or gifts from the church made of bread or clay, or, more probably, it may have served as a mold for metal eulogiai. A. Antonaras

Ostoia 1969, 19, no. 3; Testini 1969, no. 147; Grig 2004, 218, fig. 28. Bibliography Pelekanides 1959, 38–41; Mentzos 1996, 18–27.

13. Stamp or Mold Early 8th century Black stone, probably basalt H. 0.018 m., diam. 0.092 m. Found in the courtyard of Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, ΒΑ 4 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Part of the body is missing. Circular stone eulogia stamp or mold with conical back, in the center of which a handle has been created in the shape of a truncated pyramid with a suspension hole. On the front in reverse relief, a jeweled cross with unequal arms is depicted, abutted by a roundel with a bust of Christ blessing with his left hand and holding a closed book in his right, against a star-studded background. His head and right shoulder are missing. To the right and left of the cross stand two male figures dressed in long tunics with vertical stripes and himatia. The figure on the left, who has short hair and a small beard, is holding a book with a cross on the cover in his right hand as he touches the central cross with his left. The figure on the right is


14. Tray Late 4th–early 5th century Clay, red-slip ware H. 0.306 m., w. 0.382 m. From Carthage; donated by Loukas Benakis Athens, Benaki Museum, 12405, 12406b, 12409, 12431 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

The tray is mended from several sherds, and the missing parts were restored using molds made from parts of other, identical trays. At the lower left side of the bottom is an ancient repair with a metal clamp. The shallow tray is rectangular with a wide, flat rim. Represented in relief at the center are the enthroned figures of the two leading apostles, Peter and Paul, on either side of a large Christogram. On the rim, four scenes from the Old Testament story of Jonah are repeated twice in narrative sequence and are accompanied by a likewise double depiction of fish.

This tray is a characteristic example of African red-slip ware, which dominated the Mediterranean market in Late Antiquity. Trays of this type were produced between 360 and 430. They reproduce the shape and often the iconography of their counterparts in silver. Silver rectangular trays (lances quadratae) were part of the sumptuous household furnishings in Late Antiquity and were probably used for display, as perhaps were their cheaper imitations in clay. Ceramic trays of this type were made using limestone molds, a technique that permitted mass production. However, only a few intact examples have survived. It should be noted that although clay trays were undoubtedly cheaper than their metal models, they were not of negligible value, as borne out by the examples with traces of ancient repair, such as the Benaki Museum tray (see also cat. no. 52). Interventions of this kind reveal that the owners were unwilling to discard a damaged vessel and took measures to prolong its life. The subjects represented on the tray, the leading apostles and the story of Jonah, are among the most popular in Christian iconography of Late Antiquity and appear on diverse objects. The combined representation of Peter and Paul symbolizes the union of the Church through the Concordia Apostolorum. There is nothing surprising in its coexistence with an Old Testament theme, since combinations of subjects from both testaments were common in the art of the period, underlining the unity of the two traditions. Moreover, the story of Jonah was a prefiguration of the three-day Entombment and Resur­rection of Christ and consequently an allegory for the Salvation of Mankind. A. Drandaki Bibliography

15. Circular Pendant with Double Solidus Medallion of

Constantine I Late 4th century Gold H. 0.096 m., diam. 0.085 m. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1970.37 Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Salomonson 1969, 57–58, fig. 77; Hayes 1972, 87; Poulou-Papadimitriou 1994, 354–60; Georgoula 2007, 162–63, no. 80 [A. Drandaki]; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, 210, 423–24, no. 178 [N. Poulou-Papadimitriou].

The pendant is in excellent condition. A double-solidus medallion of Constantine the Great in military costume and wearing a radiate crown is framed in a wide opus interrasile (pierced openwork) frame suspended from a wide loop in the same technique. Around the medallion are six busts in very high relief, which gives the pendant an impressive sense of animation and increases its aura of luxury. The medallion is inscribed CONSTANTINVS MAX(imus) AVG(ustus). On the reverse appear Constantine’s sons, Crispus and Constantine II, who are identified as consuls for the third time, thus dating the medallion to 324: CRISPVS ET CONSTANTINVS NOBB (=nobilissimi) CAESS (=Caesares) COSS (=consules) III; the mint is SIRM(ium), a Roman city now in Serbia. The pendant is an outstanding example of coin-set jewelry, a style that was developed especially between the 3rd and 5th centuries. Many medallions, distributed as official presents and kept as heirlooms, were put into frames so that they could be worn and displayed; this pendant (and its four mates, see below) is one of the rare examples to combine the aesthetic sensibility of very fine openwork with the technical expertise of threedimensional heads. The medallion was set in such a way that both sides were visible and, if necessary, it could be removed from the frame.


There are five opus interrasile pendants that are related by the subtlety of their patterns, the double solidus medallions of Constantine they hold, and the elegant busts on the frames: one octagonal (Cleveland Museum of Art), two circular (this one and another in the Musée du Louvre, Paris), and two hexagonal pendants (cat. no. 16, the other in the British Museum, London). This incomparable set of jewelry must have belonged to someone in the highest rank of the civil or military administration of the Roman Empire. S. Zwirn Bibliography Bruhn 1993, 16–22, no. 4, fig. 12; Deppert-Lippitz 1996, 50–53, figs. 14–17; Ross 2005, no. 180 [S. A. Boyd]; Grüsinger – Boike 2007, I.11.7 [G. Bühl].

and Constantine II inaugurate their second consulship: CRISPVS ET CONSTANTINVS NOB(illissimi) CAESS (=Caesares) COSS (=consules) II, giving a date of 321. The medallion was minted in SIRM(ium). Although a mate to the circular pendant, it differs from it in significant ways. The openwork patterns are not the same: here there is a symmetrical, heart-shaped configuration with an ivy leaf pointing inward, whereas on the circular medallion, the openwork is a spiral enclosing a five-pointed vine leaf. The three-dimensional busts also differ: here they alternate male and female, whereas the circular medallion has four male and two female heads; although there are some similarities among the heads on the five pendants in the set (see cat. no. 15), no consistent sequencing or identifications emerge. Despite theories proposed to explain the heads as part of a meaningful program, their variety of gender, facial type, age, and hairstyle has not supported the interpretations. The medallions of Constantine set into the elaborate pendants date to either 321 or 324. Although the pendants could have been made soon after the latter date, the style of the heads—long faces with pointed chins, long necks, and heads tilted at distinct angles—resembles those on precious metalwork and sculpture of the late 4th century. Coins that were said to have been found with the gold pendants date to the third quarter of the 4th century and into the 380s. For these reasons, the pendants are placed into the last quarter of the 4th century. S. Zwirn Bibliography Bruhn 1993, 16–22, no. 5, fig. 11; Deppert-Lippitz 1996, 44–48, figs. 8a–b, 12a–f; Ross 2005, no. 181 [S. A. Boyd].

16. Hexagonal Pendant with Double Solidus of

Constantine I Late 4th century Gold H. 0. 085 m., point-to-point 0.092 m. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1975.6 Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

The pendant is in excellent condition. Constructed like the circular medallion in this exhibition (cat. no. 15), except for its lobed hexagonal frame, the pendant holds a double solidus of Constantine in military garb and wear­ ing a radiate crown, probably a reference to Sol, the sun god. The inscription reads D(ominus) N(oster) CONSTANTINVS MAX(imus) AVG(ustus). On the reverse, busts of his sons Crispus


17. Ring 4th century Gold Overall: 0.010 m., h. 0.024 m., w. 0.024 m.; bezel: h. 0.010 m., w. 0.014 m.; hoop: diam. 0.020–0.022 m. Zucker Family Trust; on loan to the Walters Art Museum Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, TL.1985.10.50 Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

With little apparent damage, this relatively unadorned ring features a rectangular bezel, contiguous with a hoop that is flat in section and squared off at the edges. The bezel is inscribed with the word FIDEM, and the name CONSTANTINO runs around the exterior of the hoop; this inscription—[May I pledge my] faith to [emperor] Constantine—implies that the ring may have been owned by an imperial official of some sort. Fourth-century tastes across the Roman Empire increasingly dictated elaborate and brightly colored jewelry, but this simple ring, perpetuating an earlier Roman design, does not participate in that trend. Despite its somewhat plain decoration, however, the use of gold provides a considerable level of aesthetic and monetary value. Bibliography

K. Gerry

Vikan 1987, 33, fig. 3; Schulz 2010, 103–4.

19. Medallion of Constantine I (306–37) 327 Mint: Thessaloniki Gold Diam. 0.025 m., weight 6.83 gr. (1½ solidi) RIC 7, 520, 163 Princeton, Princeton University Numismatic Collection 7727; purchase 2002 with funds from the TownsendVermeule Numismatic Fund Photo © Numismatic Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Die axis 6 o’clock; uncirculated condition. Reverse legend: GLORIACONS TANTINIAVC [The Glory of Constantine Augustus] 18. Solidus of Constantine I (306–37) 310–13 Mint: Trier Gold Diam. 0.017 m., weight 4.31 gr. RIC 6, 222, 816 Princeton, Princeton University Numismatic Collection 7675; gift 1965 from Louis C. West Photo © Numismatic Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Die axis 6 o’clock; uncirculated condition. Obverse legend: CONSTAN TINVSPFAVC [Constantine, Reverent and Happy, Augustus]; reverse legend VICTOR VBIQVE [Victor Everywhere] The early coinage of Constantine continued the pattern initiated with the establishment of the tetrarchy under Diocletian: coins were issued in the name of each emperor from a variety of mints, with some reverse representations related to the specific emperor and others concerning the state of the empire as a whole. The chief distinguishing feature of Constantine’s early coinage is his representation as unbearded, perhaps stressing his status as the son of Constantius Chlorus, one of the founding Caesars of the tetrarchy. The reverses of some of his coins feature tributes to the pagan gods Mars, Apollo, and Sol, whereas others call attention to his military victories, such as this one, which proclaims him universal victor and depicts him as a general in triumph over two captives.

This piece is remarkable in many ways. Its weight of one-and-ahalf times that of the standard gold coin, the solidus, indicates a special status of some sort. Its obverse lacks a legend with an identification of the issuer, which is incorporated into the reverse legend. In the depiction, Constantine wears an ornate diadem rather than the more common laurel wreath. There is no indication of shoulders below the neck, which allows the image to be oriented either facing straight ahead or looking up (a strict adherence to the die relationship of obverse to reverse renders the gaze directly forward). There is little doubt that this coin is the one alluded to by Eusebios in his Life of Constantine (IV, 15), when he reports that Constantine “directed his likeness to be stamped on the golden coin of the empire with the eyes uplifted as in the posture of prayer to God.” Like the very few other references to Christianity on the coinage of Constantine, this is a subtle and ambiguous declaration of faith that would not offend pagan subjects. The reverse follows almost exactly that of the earlier coin with its depiction of military triumph. A. M. Stahl Bibliography Carson 1981, 3, 30 –39; Burnett 1987, 145–47.

A. M. Stahl Bibliography Carson 1981, 3, 7–29; Burnett 1987, 140 –45.


the Council of Nicaea (325), which the emperor had led in person, the anniversary medallion demonstrates how imperial traditions were still expressed, at this turning point, independently of the new ideology of the world as a Christian realm. S. Zwirn Bibliography Bellinger 1958, no. 6; Age of Spirituality 1979, no. 35 [W. E. Metcalf]; Toynbee 1944 (background for medallions).

20. Three Solidus Medallion of Constantine I (306–37) 326 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.036 m., weight 13.48 gr. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZC.1950.6 Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

There is a vertical scratch through the cheek and a slight dent in the upper edge of the medallion, which is otherwise in fine condition. The emperor, shown in profile to the right, is identified as CONSTANTINVS MAX(imus) AVG(ustus). He wears a paludamentum, a military cloak, fastened at his right shoulder with a gemmed fibula. As on the medallion from Siscia (cat. no. 21), the emperor wears a diadem—the exclusive prerogative of the ruling family—here composed of round and oval gems and tied at the nape of the neck with fillets seemingly flicked into the air by a sudden turn of the head. The hair is long over the forehead and on the neck, and the emperor’s thick neck and focused gaze suggest forceful authority and great physical strength. The reverse shows two winged genii standing, facing each other, and holding a long garland that hangs in swags. The image is surrounded by the inscription GAVDIVM AVGVSTI NOSTRI (Joy of our Augustus). In 324, after defeating his co-emperor and thereby becoming the sole ruler of the Roman Empire, Constantine chose the strategic site of Augusta Antonina (formerly the Greek city of Byzantion) to develop as his new capital city. Constantinoupolis was dedicated in 330 and would endure as the capital of the empire—known in modern times as the Byzantine Empire—until 1453. Issued for the emperor’s vicennalia, his twentieth anni­ versary as ruler, this celebratory medallion must have been among the earliest productions from the newly established mint in “Constantine’s City,” yet the formulation for the emperor’s anniversary is rendered with traditional imagery—the emperor in military dress, the display of a floral garland, the winged genii, the choices of title and phrase. These are all elements of a centuries-old language for imperial self-presentation, that is to say, without acknowledgment of Constantine’s indebtedness to divine support from the Christian god. Coming one year after


21. Four and One-half Solidus Medallion of

Constantine I (306–37) 326 Mint: Siscia (present day Sisak, Croatia) Gold Diam. 0.036 m., weight 20.06 gr. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZC.1949.4 Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

This large medallion is very well preserved. Facing to the right is the bust of the emperor, inscribed CONSTANTINVS AVG(ustus); his head, tilted back, emphasizes his upward glance. Constantine wears a diadem of gemstones and pearls, which is tied with fillets that seem to fly freely. The subtle modeling of the facial features gives the profile a sense of intelligence and animation, and the thick neck suggests great strength. On the reverse, a Roman soldier carries a spear and a trophy and steps forward with his left leg on a seated (meaning defeated) man in eastern dress. The inscription proclaims VIRTVS D(omini) N(ostri) CONSTANTINI AVG(usti) (Courage of Our Lord Constantine Augustus). The Latin virtus comprises the ideals of manliness, excellence, good character, and courage. SIS(cia) indicates the mint. The medallion’s weight reveals that this is a multiple of the solidus—the standard gold coin of exchange established by Constantine. Not minted for circulation, medallions were created for distribution on ceremonial occasions, often as presents directly from the emperor to worthy recipients. This example was struck to celebrate Constantine’s vicennalia, his twentieth anniversary as ruler, in 326.

Having had a vision of a trophy of the cross rising from the light of the sun with the message “Conquer by this” (En Touto Nika in Greek, transformed into Hoc Signo Victor Eris in Latin), he had his soldiers place the emblem on their shields—and won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312. From then on, he remained committed to the Christian church and generous in his patronage, but he also preserved many traditional imperial— political and iconographic—formulae. Although the emperor’s biographer Bishop Eusebios claimed that “the deep impression made by Divine Faith upon his soul may be perceived from the fact that he ordered that he be portrayed on the gold coins looking upward, intent upon God, in an attitude of prayer” (Life of Constantine 4.15), it is more likely that inspiration for Constantine’s heavenward glance was a portrait type of Alexander the Great, in which the youthful conqueror gazes upward to express his personal connection with the supernal realm. The idealized and youthful appearance of Constantine, as compared with his contemporary image on the medallion from Constantinople (cat. no. 20), gives credence to this interpretation. S. Zwirn Bibliography Toynbee 1944 (discussion of medallions); Bellinger 1958, no. 7; Age of Spirituality 1979, no. 34 [W. E. Metcalf]; Odahl 2004, 105–8 (discussion of Constantine’s vision).

22. S  olidus of Theodosios II (408–50) 430–39 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.3 gr. LRC, no. 379ff. Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 46/1981 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN THEODOSIVS PF AVC = Dominus Noster Theodosius Pius Felix Augustus = Our Lord Theodosios Pious [and] Fortunate Augustus. Bust of the emperor wearing a helmet, diadem, and cuirass and holding a spear. He is turned to the right in threequarter profile. Reverse: VOTXXX MVLTXXX B =May the emperor [live] many years [officina] B. A personification of Constantinople holds a globus cruciger and a long scepter. She is resting her foot on the prow of a ship. On the right in the field is a star. In exergue: CONOB. Unpublished

Y. Nikolaou

22–29. From Roman to Christian Symbols on

Byzantine Coinage In the early Byzantine period (i.e., 4th–7th c.), the eastern Roman Empire preserved many of the administrative structures of the ancient world, and its development into a medieval state, Byzan­tium, was a slow process. The coinage followed the same slow pace of change, but systematic efforts to Christianize it can be seen in the switch from Roman iconographical subject matter and symbols to Christian ones with the introduction of new motifs. Following the Roman model, the reverse of the first Byzantine coins depicted Victory, the Roman goddess of military success. However, with the gradual Christianization of the iconography of Byzantine coins, this pagan goddess ceded her place to the Christian angel. From the second half of the 6th century the reverse of the gold coinage is occupied by a simple cross, symbol of Christian victory, on a three- or four-stepped base. It symbolizes the cross of Christ’s Passion and its stepped base is a symbolic and abstract representation of Golgotha. Y. Nikolaou Bibliography Nike-Victoria 2004, 62–63.

23. Solidus of Justin II (565–78) 567–78 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.4 gr. MIB ΙΙ, no. 5 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Vlastos Collection 1904-05 ΛΗ’ 116 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN IVSTINVS PP AVC = Dominus Noster Iustinus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Justin Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the emperor wearing a helmet, diadem with prependoulia (hanging jeweled ornaments) and a cuirass. He holds a globe surmounted by a Victory, who is crowning him. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCC Δ = Victoria Augustorum (officina) Δ = Victory of the Augusti. A personification of Constantinople is holding a scepter and a globus cruciger. In the exergue: CONOB. Unpublished

Y. Nikolaou


24. Solidus of Leo I (457–74) 457–73 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.021 m., weight 4.4 gr. LRC, no. 516ff. Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 48/1981 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

26. Solidus of Maurice (582–602) 583/84–602 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.022 m., weight 4.2 gr. MIB II, no. 6E Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 103/1968 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN LEOPERPET AVC = Dominus Noster Leo Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Leo Perpetual Augustus. Bust of the emperor with helmet, diadem, cuirass, and spear, turned to the right in three-quarter profile. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCC Β = Victoria Augustorum [officina] Β = Victory of the Augusti. A Victory (Nike-Victoria) holds a long, gemmed cross. In the field there is a star. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou

Obverse: DNMAVRCTIbPPAVI = Dominus Noster Mauricius Tiberius Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Maurice Tiberios Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the emperor with helmet, diadem with prependoulia, and cuirass. He holds a globus cruciger. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCC Ε = Victoria Augustorum (officina) Ε = Victory of the Augusti. An angel holds a long scepter with a Christogram and a globus cruciger. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou

Unpublished Bibliography Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 270.

25. Solidus of Basiliskos (475–76) 475–76 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.021 m., weight 4.4 gr. LRC, no. 607ff. Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 50/1981 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

27. Solidus of Tiberios II (578–82) 578–82 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.021 m., weight 4.4 gr. MIB II, no. 4 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ 12135β’ Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN BASILISCVS PPAVC = Dominus Noster Basiliscus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Basiliskos Pepetual Augustus. Bust of the emperor with helmet, diadem, cuirass, and spear, turned to the right in three-quarter profile. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCC = Victoria Augustorum = Victory of the Augusti. A Victory (Nike-Victoria) is holding a tall gemmed cross. There is a star in the field. In the exergue: CONOB.

Obverse: δmTIbCONSTANTPPAVC = Dominus Noster Tiberius Constantinus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Tiberios Constantine Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the emperor wearing a crown with prependoulia and a cuirass. He holds a globus cruciger. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCΗ= Victoria Augustorum [officina] = Victory of the Augusti. Cross rising from four steps. In the exergue: CONOB.

Y. Nikolaou Unpublished



Y. Nikolaou

28. Semissis of Herakleios (610–41) 613–41 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.019 m., weight 2.2 gr. MIB IIΙ, no. 72 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 114 /1968 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: δNhERAC(LI)YSTPPAVC = Dominus Noster Heraclius Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Herakleios Perpetual Augustus. Bust of the emperor with diadem, facing right. Reverse: VICTORI AAΥGY E = Victoria Augusti [officina] E = Victory of the Augustus. Cross surmounting a globe. Y. Nikolaou


30. Inscription of Bishop Epiphanios 6th century Local workshop Dark blue marble, small grain H. 0.22 m., w. 0.47 m., diam. 0.03 m. Found in the Basilica of Bishop Elpidios, Phthiotic Thebes, Nea Anchialos Nea Anchialos, Archaeological Collection of Phthiotic Thebes, Ε76 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Part of a donor inscription on a stone slab, damaged on the right-hand side. At the beginning of the five-line inscription, a carved Latin cross.

Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 270.


29. Solidus of Constans II (641–68) 647/48 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.021 m., weight 4.4 gr. MIB IIΙ, no. 11 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 117/1968

┼ Βουλησι Θ(εο)υ Επιφαν[ιος o αγιωτ(ατος)] Αρχ (ιερευς) ευραμενος τα σ[------------] εκτισεν τη ΘηβαIων π[----------------] εσχηκως υπουργOν Σ[----------------] τον θαυμ(ασιωτατον) επαρχικον και εκ[δικον] ┼ At God’s behest Bishop Epiphanios built the town of Thebes, with the assistance of the excellent S . . . [official] of the prefect’s office and public prosecutor

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: δNCONSTANΤINVS PP AV(C) = Dominus Noster Constantinus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Constantine Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the emperor with crown. He is holding a globus cruciger. Reverse: VICTORA AVGYΙ = Victoria Augusti [officina] I = Victory of the Augustus. Cross on a four-stepped base. The letters “δ. S” in the field. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou

Epiphanios was most probably bishop of Thebes and helped to build the city with the assistance of Stephanos (?), whose titles were eparchikos and ekdikos, meaning that he worked in the office of the prefect of Illyricum and at the same time exercised his judicial authority to protect the city of Thebes. A. Dina Bibliography Sotiriou 1955, 138; Avramea – Feissel 1987, 362–63.

Bibliography Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 271.


31. Corinthian Pilaster Capital with Relief Figure of

Kabeiros Early 4th century Thessaloniki workshop White marble, fine grained H. 0.605 m., w. 0.54 m. From the hall of the Octagon in the palace of Galerius, Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 6689 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

capitals and pilaster capitals of this period is not easy to pinpoint. The pilaster capital with the figure of Kabeiros, along with others depicting Zeus, Hygeia, one of the Dioskouroi, and the personification of the Tyche of Thessaloniki, are all thought to depict the city’s divine defenders. These architectural members were found in the Octagon, the throne room, and the audience hall in the Palace of Galerius, although it is likely that they are connected with an earlier circular building on the same spot. It has been confirmed that they show stylistic similarities with other high-quality works of the same period from Thessaloniki, such as the relief decoration on the great triumphal arch and a smaller one that crowned a shrine to the south of the Octagon. These works are associated with a local sculpture workshop, which operated to serve the intensive building activity that developed when Galerius settled in Thessaloniki. Pilaster capitals of the 5th century with acanthus foliage flanking relief figures of animals found in the churches of Thessaloniki are in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. K. Tzanavari Bibliography Mendel 1914, 164–66, nos. 476, 477; Mendel 1914a, 547–51, nos. 1341–1344; Touratsoglou 1988, 95–96, fig. 5; Mentzos 1989, 88–94, 310–11, no. 74, pl. 32α; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 1995, 92–94, pl. 30α; Vokotopoulou 1996, 76–78; LIMC VΙΙΙ, 1997, 820–28, L. Megaloi Theoi [D. Vollkommer-Glökler]; Catalogue Ι, 189–95, no. 142, fig. 368

The pilaster capital has been pieced together, and parts of the foliate decoration and the relief figure are missing. In the Ionicorder decoration on the lower part, three eggs are separated by darts, of which only the middle one is visible; the eggs on either side are covered by acanthus leaves. Two split-leaved acanthus with high-relief flutes curve outward on the lateral sides. The relief figure of Kabeiros is flanked by another two tendrils, which end in calyxes, from which spring two paired volutes: the inner ones converge, whereas the outer ones end in toruses, which support the bipartite abacus. Kabeiros is standing on a plinth, advancing his right leg. He wears a short tunic with sleeves and a chlamys with elaborate drapery folds, and his hair frames his face, forming curls. As the demonic young god of fire and metalworking, he holds a rhyton or drinking cup in his right hand and in his left what is probably a hammer. The “most holy god of our forefathers,” patron of Thessaloniki, is depicted here in an iconographic type known from 2nd- and 3rd-century coins minted in the city and which probably represents the god’s cult statue in the Kabeirion. Similarly, on the coins the god is depicted on the city walls, in commemoration of the time when he warded off the besieging Goths in 254 and again in 268. His cult was of an orgiastic nature, and the writers Clement of Alexandria and Firmicus Maternus connect it with blood sacrifices. The cult of St. Demetrios, also patron saint of Thessaloniki, is thought to be a continuation of Kabeiros’s. This type of composite (Corinthian and Ionic) pilaster capital is known from other built complexes of the late empire. Nevertheless, the symbolism of decorative relief figures on


[Th. Stefanidou-Tiveriou]; Sklavou-Mavroeidi 1999, 57, no. 64; Tzanavari 2003, 222–23, fig. 25; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 2006, 350–51, figs. 32–35; Adam-Veleni 2009, 74–75, figs. 99, 103–5; StefanidouTiveriou 2009; Mentzos 2010, 336–52.

32. Corinthianizing Pilaster Capital 5th century Syria or Asia Minor Marble H. 0.300 m., w. 0.406 m. Princeton University Art Museum, 2004-56; Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921 Fund, with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies, with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund Photo © Trustees of Princeton University

Losses to the projecting acanthus, the rim of the basket, and the coils of the volutes, the latter exposing drill holes originally hidden. Edges lightly chipped. The back of the capital is flat and summarily finished, and the sides are undecorated. In the upper zone, two volutes spring left and right, emerging from sprays of acanthus leaves that are carved with notable shallowness and without the use of the drill. These, in turn, emerge from a small basket projecting at the center top, which has a twisted rim and base, wavy wickerwork, and pierced apertures. The lower two-thirds of the capital are filled with vertical stalks of acanthus, the upper leaves of which splay outward with considerably more volume than those below, which are nearly flat. The deep drill work of the leaves, finished with a chisel, gives them a crisp, spiky appearance, a type known as “fine-toothed” acanthus. The effects of light and shade, employed by classical artisans to emphasize physical presence and monumentality, are here used to reduce the volume to the point of abstraction, a hallmark of the Late Antique style. Unlike most Corinthian or Corinthianizing capitals, the acanthus of the lower zone is not arranged in two tiers but instead rises from the base in tall stalks, six leaves on a side. The one in the center and the two on the ends are in the frontal plain; those between are recessed, with only the serrated leaves visible, all arrayed with rigid symmetry. Although it may have been carved in a quarry of Asia Minor, such as Dokimeion, the capital could have adorned a church or a public building in Syria or elsewhere in the eastern empire. The basket recalls more elaborate examples on early 6th-century capitals, like that on another capital in Princeton, from Antioch-on-the-Orontes. Indeed, the unified articulation of the flat surface with a single tier of towering acanthus looks forward to some of the finest capitals in Justinian’s church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. J. M. Padgett Unpublished

33. Pillar-shaped Stele with Invocatory Inscription 6th century High-quality white marble H. 0.84 m., w. 0.46 m. / 0.31 m., thickness 0.43 m. Found in the excavation of the south side of the fortification wall in Christian Amphipolis Amphipolis, Archaeological Museum, Λ883 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

This monumental stele has been preserved in good condition, but the upper part (and perhaps a pediment) is missing. Both sides are surrounded by moldings that form rectangular frames. The base is made up of a plinth with four low integral feet, a wide scotia, a frieze, and other moldings. The stele was visible from three sides. Large incised crosses with flared terminals and pyramidal bases decorate the lateral sides; the unseen back surface was roughly worked, so that it could be attached to something. The stele’s find-spot near the south gate of the

Christian acropolis suggests it had a prominent location in the walls. The front of the stele was occupied by the eight-line inscription. The carefully executed letters with triangular terminals are between 0.05 and 0.55 meters high: + Χ(ριστE) ο Θ (εOς) / ημΩν / σΩσον / και ανΑ- / στησον / και την / πόλ{ε}ιν / ταΥτην (Christ our God, save and restore this city). This type of script is consistent with that of 6th-century inscriptions. Regarding the content, the plea to Christ to save and restore Amphipolis can be related to the decisive historical events setting the course that urban centers in the Balkans would follow throughout that century. Events such as the epidemic of bubonic plague, recorded in 542 in the reign of the emperor Justinian I (Prokopios, History of the Wars ΙΙ, xxii–xxiii, ed. Loeb), had long-term demographic, economic, and social consequences for the whole empire, as did the attacks by the Avars and Slavs in the same period, which escalated in the 6th century and later in the 7th, and the earthquakes commemorated by the anonymous author of the Second Book of Miracles of St. Demetrios, which devastated Thessaloniki, Philippi, Thasos, and the Pierian Valley in the late 6th and early 7th centuries. These too are likely to have affected the fate of Amphipolis until its final decline. S. Doukata-Demertzi Bibliography Doukata-Demertzi – Kommatas 1998; Bakirtzis 2000.


34. Portable Sundial 250–350 Copper alloy Exterior d. 0.072 m., interior diam. 0.049 m., w. of each ring 0.005 m., thickness of each ring 0.003 m. Found in the Octagon at Philippi Philippi, Archaeological Museum Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The sundial consists of three separate but interconnected rings of flattened metal, the middle one of which is divided into two hemicycles. The two inner rings are each connected at diametrically opposed points to the outer one—the innermost one by means of two ordinary bolts, the middle one by more complex fittings—and a suspension hook hangs from each of them. Thus the two inner rings can turn through 360o independent of each other, making the instrument into a sort of spherical astrolabe. On the curved, external face of the middle ring are engraved two by two on each half ring the names and the latitudes of cities: ΡωΜΗC ΜΑΓ [of Rome …] ΟΥΙΕΝΝ(HC) [of Vienne/ …] ΜΕ–ΑΛΕΞΑΝ(ΔΡΕΙΑC) [of Alexan(dria) …] ΜΛΑ – ΡΟΔΟΥ ΜΛS [Rhodes …]. On the two lateral sides are engraved the names of the months, so that the months from January to June on one side and from July to December on the other correspond to each of the named cities. The curved outer surface of the inner ring has a depression, in the middle of which is situated an opening through which the sun’s rays pass. The curved inner side is divided by incisions into twelve parts. This unique device can measure the hours, calculate approximate latitudes, or determine the azimuth and the altitude of the sun or any other heavenly body. It builds on the achievements of the Hellenistic tradition, which the Byzantines later improved on under the influence of their Christian cosmology and also as a result of their interaction with the Muslim world. S. Dadaki

Bibliography Gounaris 1978; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 167, no. 185.


35. Part of a Mosaic Pavement with the Personification of

the Month of April Early 6th century Stone and marble 1.23 × 1.10 m.; weight ca. 197 kilos From Thebes Chalkis, 23rd Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The mosaic with the personification of the month April is part of a larger—partly preserved—mosaic pavement that covered two rooms of what was most likely a public building, which was partly excavated in the 1960s. The whole pavement with figural and decorative themes also contains three inscriptions of great importance, since they include the names of the two mosaicists and of a priest and teacher of the divine word. The pavement that covered one room of the building is composed of two figural panels bordered by complex interlaces. The south panel with human and animal figures was earlier considered to depict a common hunting scene, but now it should be interpreted as a scene of Venatio. The north panel portrays the months July, February, May, and April. The four panels are arranged in two superimposed registers each with two figures of the months who rush toward each other. Thus, July is paired with February (top row) and May with April (lower row). April is identified by an inscription in the upper right corner and is dressed in a short tunic, fluttering chlamys, and light boots. He holds in his raised arms a lamb and hurries to the left, forming with May the same antithetical arrangement as in the July and February panels. Depictions of seasons of the years or months originate from motifs of the classical period that were strong enough to survive. The peculiarity of the mosaic from Thebes is that only four

months are depicted, which does not seem to follow any logical order, and that they are represented as rushing figures who offer their attributes in their outstretched arms. Such representations of months are rather rare in Late Antique mosaic pavements, as, for example, in the lost Calendar Mosaic from Carthage of the late 4th or early 5th century on which the twelve months were depicted in correct order in a circular arrangement. On the Greek mainland, similar rushing figures offering baskets but accompanied by different inscriptions are situated in the apse of the Basilica of Thyrsos in Tegea and in the narthex of the Basilica in Delphi. The whole mosaic pavement from Thebes contains figural scenes inspired by classical antiquity, decorative themes such as oblique grids inscribed with birds, and at the same time inscriptions of purely Christian content. E. Gerousi Bibliography Spiro 1978a, 207–21, 655; Spiro 1978b, 262–63; AssimakopoulouAtzaka 1987, 157–59, pl. 255–64; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, 379, no. 8.

The right shoulder and arm have been restored with plaster. The nose is broken. The man is wearing a chiton and a himation, which falls diagonally from the left shoulder to the right armpit. There is a mass of hair at the sides of the head that forms heavy, untidy curls at the temples, while the hair on the top of the head and particularly at the front, just above the forehead, is thin and sparse, indicating the subject’s advancing years. His beard is full and he has a thick moustache, which entirely covers the upper lip. The arched eyebrows are rendered with diagonal incisions. The eyes are large and wide open, with heavy eyelids, and the iris and the pupil are both indicated. There is a wrinkle above the hooked nose. There are more wrinkles on the forehead. The ears are large and protruding. All these features clearly delineate the personal characteristics of the figure. At the same time, however, the way in which some of them, such as the large, stylized eyebrows, the oversize eyes, or the hair above the forehead, are rendered is redolent of a certain introversion and spirituality and could be thought of as early expressionistic features of Byzantine art. It seems likely to depict a man of some importance in public life in Athens. The portrait is reminiscent of similar busts of philosophers, and some scholars have associated it with the so-called Eutropios of Ephesus type and dated it to the reign of Theodosios the Great. A more specific dating of 440 –460 has also been suggested. N. Kaltsas Bibliography Agora I, 1953, 80; Stavridi 1981, 137–38, pl. 51γ; Meischner 1991, 386, pl. 87,1; Romiopoulou 1997, 132, no. 144; Kaltsas 2002, 373, no. 798.

36. Bust of an Elderly Man 440–60 Attic workshop Parian marble H. 0.285 m. Most probably from Athens Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 423 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism


female portrait was paired with a male bust (cat. no. 38), and there can be no doubt that they were carved in the same workshop. P. Adam-Veleni Bibliography L’Orange 1961, figs. 27, 2 and 4; Rüsch 1969, 76, 100ff., 130ff., P36, fig. 44–45; Kiilerich 1993, 113, fig. 61; Schade 2003, 205, 206, pl. 55,1; Catalogue III.

37. Female Portrait Bust ca. 400 Marble Overall h. 0.595 m.; head: h. 0.275 m. From Kopanos, near Veroia Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 1060 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Excellent condition. Only the nose is broken. The bust’s base was made of a separate piece of marble, which has been lost. The woman’s face, slightly turned to the left, is squared off with a broad lower jaw and is fleshy but has no wrinkles. She has a low forehead, large protruding eyes, a hooked nose and very thin, closed lips. The pupils have been hollowed out with a drill, and the irises are incised. Her double chin bears witness to her age. Her abundant hair is presented in an elaborate hairstyle and creates a dense mass piled high around her face. The hair is parted in the middle and falls in deep waves toward the tips of her ears, leaving only the lobes visible. It is bound up at the nape of the neck and swept up in a braid ending on the top of the head, where it is fastened to create a thick bun, which is visible from the front. This type of hairstyle first appeared in the Severan period and continued to be highly popular throughout Late Antiquity. She is wearing a chiton and himation, draped with elaborate folds across her chest. This is one of the best examples of figurative art of the period. The female bust is distinguished by the outstanding quality of its workmanship, the modeling of the flesh on the face, and the accuracy of the outlines and detailing on the hair. This


38. Male Portrait Bust ca. 400 Marble Overall h. 0.72 m.; bust: h. 0.585 m. From Kopanos, near Veroia Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 1061 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Excellent condition. Only the nose is broken and part of the ears. The bust’s base is made of a separate piece of marble. The bust stands on a cylindrical base. The head is slightly turned to the right. The subject is a man of mature years wearing a chiton and himation, fastened on the right shoulder. His face is long and thin with a high forehead, large eyes, tightly shut lips with a slight smile, and a well-shaped, determined chin. The pupils have been created with small drill holes and the irises are incised. His age is betrayed by the wrinkles on the forehead, lines around the eyes, furrows between the nose and cheeks, and sagging around the jaw line. His hair forms a thick mass of locks that hug the head, leaving the corners of the forehead free.

This male portrait bust formed a pair with the female bust (cat. no. 37), an exquisite example of the art of the Late Antique period. They no doubt stood together, depicting a husband and wife, as is evident from the way they turn their heads, so that they are looking at one another. They represent the “refined” style that characterizes some portraits of this period in Rome dated to the late 4th century, the reign of Honorius, or slightly earlier, in the time of Theodosios I. A date between 420 and 430 (i.e., in the reign of Theodosios II), has been proposed for this portrait. The subject of the bust was a distinguished official of the period, as is indicated by a fragment of sculpture with a copy of his portrait found in Corinth. The pair of busts found at Kopanos, near Veroia, is thought likely to have decorated a luxurious private residence in the vicinity of ancient Mieza. P. Adam-Veleni Bibliography L’Orange 1961, figs. 27, 1 and 3; Rüsch 1969, 76, 100ff., 130ff., P36, figs. 46–47, Meischner 1991, 397, 90,3; Kiilerich 1993, 113, fig. 62; de Grazia Vanderpool 2003, 379; Catalogue III.

39. Consular Diptych of Philoxenos Before January 525 Constantinople Ivory H. 0.333 m., w. 0.125 m., thickness 0.09 m. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1935.4a-b Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Despite the damage at the lower right corner of the reverse and a crack running through the upper right inscription on the other plaque, the diptych is in good condition. Two panels, decorated with relief carving on the outside, filled with a layer of wax on the inside, and hinged together to form a diptych, were used as writing tablets and notepads in ancient times. The deluxe version is made of ivory and was issued by the noble members and dignitaries of Late Antique and Byzantine society to announce and celebrate special events, such as a marriage or a promotion to a higher-ranking office. Consular diptychs form a category of these ivory diptychs that were commissioned by ordinary consuls (consules ordinarii) in both parts of the Roman Empire. The purpose was to commemorate the appointment and to declare the start of the consul’s term at the beginning of the New Year, which was celebrated with several days of ceremonies and public entertainment (ludi consulares). On the inside, each wing has a recessed field, following the tradition of the wooden and more mundane diptychs; whether these fields were filled with wax for messages is questionable because not a single original text has been preserved and it is still debated as to what information—if any at all—these tablets delivered. This diptych, with an elegant geometrical and floral decoration, identifies the commissioner as the consul of Constan­ tinople in the year 525. Within an elaborately ornamented octagon in the center of each panel a Latin inscription declares: “Flavius Theodorus Filoxenus, son of Sotericus Filoxenus, with the rank of illustris, domestic count, formerly master in Thrace, and ordinary consul.” In the four circles in each corner of the leaves, a Greek inscription in incised majuscules reads: “While holding office as consul, I, Philoxenos, offer this gift to one who takes pride in his way of life.” Two other diptychs of Philoxenos, preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris, differ in design, indicating that the same person issued a variety of diptych types. Presumably they were distributed in accord with the different status of the addressees. G. Bühl Bibliography Weitzmann 1972, 28–29, pls. 14, 15; Olovsdotter 2005, 5, 36; Bühl 2008, 72, ill. p. 73.


MAG(ister) EQQ(uitum) ET P(editum) PRAES(entalis) ET C(onsul) ORD(inarius) (Flavius Peter Sabbatius Justinian, noble, officer, and chief in the cavalry and commander in chief of the infantry and consul entering his office at the proper time). The central medallions contain two parts of an inscription stating that the diptych was a gift to the senators: MUNERA PAR/ VA QUIDEM PRE/ TIO SED HONORIBUS ALMA// PATRIBUS IS/ TA MEIS OFFERO/ CONS(ul) EGO (These gifts, slight indeed in value but rich in honor, I as consul offer to my senators). K. Marsengill Bibliography Ball 1920, 13–14; Ostoia 1968, 202–3; Volbach 1976, no. 27; Age of Spirituality 1979, 51, cat. no. 50; Cutler 1984, fig. 1; Evans 2001, 15; Eastman 2010, 752, fig. 11.

41–43. Transition from Roman to Byzantine Coinage

40. Diptych of the Consul Justinian 521 Constantinople Ivory Each leaf: h. 0.035 m., w. 0.145 m. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917  17.190.52, .53 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

One of the features of transition from Roman to Byzantine coinage, as regards to iconography, is the way the image of the emperor changes from a profile to a frontal depiction. The profile portrait of the emperor of the Late Roman solidi survived on denominations of gold currency, Byzantine semisses and trimesses, up to the 7th century. Similarly the three-quarter profile of the imperial portraits on solidi of the 6th century strongly recalls Roman models. It is worth noting that the frontal depiction is better suited to displaying more symbols, such as the globus cruciger (or globe surmounted by a cross), the scepter, and the shield, and makes the emperor’s diadem or crown stand out more. Y. Nikolaou

The top and sides of the ivory leaves of the diptych have been planed down, possibly for the diptych’s reuse as a book cover. There are visible cracks in the ivory. The diptych is made up of two ivory panels that would have been joined with a hinge. Such diptychs were commissioned by consuls and given as gifts to important government officials. Justinian, who later became emperor, gave this particular diptych to members of the senate, which may explain why it is less elaborate than many extant consular diptychs that were given to people of higher status. The relatively plain appearance is quite conservative in style, though skillfully executed. The central medallions are framed with classical cyma moldings. At the four corners of both panels are lions’ heads emerging from lush beds of stylized acanthus leaves, a type of decoration that was more common in earlier centuries. Regularly placed holes cast the leaves into high relief and enliven the surface. Although many early icons were executed in ivory and took the form of diptychs, surviving consular diptychs have primarily secular imagery. The only indication of Justinian’s Christian faith in this example is the crosses that begin and end each inscription. The tabulae at the top give Justinian’s full name, followed by his various titles and government positions: FL(avius) PETR(us) SABBAT(ius) JUSTIN(ianus) V(ir) I(n)L(ustris) COM(es)


Bibliography Coinage 2008, 66-67.

41. Solidus of Arkadios (395–408) 402–8 Mint: Ravenna Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.42 gr. LRC, 272 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 42/1981 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN ARCADIVS PF AVC= Dominus Noster Arcadius  Pius Felix Augustus = Our Lord Arkadios Pious [and] Fortunate Augustus. Bust of the emperor diademed, turned to the right.

Reverse: VICTORI AAVGGG= Victoria Augustorum = Victory of the Augusti. Standing emperor, turned to the right, holding a vexillum, or standard, and a globe, being crowned by a Victory. A captive is trampled under his left foot. In the field: R V. In the exergue: COΜOB. Y. Nikolaou

Frontal bust of the emperor wearing a helmet, a diadem with prependoulia, and a cuirass. He is holding a globus cruciger. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCC H= Victoria Augustorum [officina] H = Victory of the Augusti. An angel is holding a tall cross and a globus cruciger. On the right in the field is a star. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou

Unpublished Bibliography Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 270.

44–48. Coin Inscriptions: The Long Process from Latin to Greek

42. Solidus of Anastasios I (491–518) 492–507 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.46 gr. MIB I, no. 4 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ ΑΕ 3’ Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN ANASTASIVS PP AVC = Dominus Noster Anastasius Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Anastasios Perpetual Augustus. Bust of the emperor with helmet, diadem, cuirass, and spear, turned in three-quarter profile to the right. Reverse: VICTORI AAVGGGΙ= Victoria Augustorum [officina] Ι = Victory of the Augusti. A Victory (Nike-Victoria) holds a tall, gemmed cross. On the right in the field is a star. On the exergue: CONOB.

In the early Byzantine period (4th–mid-7th c.), Latin characters and the Latin language were used exclusively in inscriptions on coins. However, as Greek literacy gained ground in the multicultural empire, Greek script took over from Latin and the Greek language became the official language of the Byzantine Empire. The first inscription in Greek written in Greek characters, ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ (= in this conquer), is seen in 641 on folles of Constans II. From the reign of Leo III (717–41) Greek words appear in the inscriptions on coins, though they are written in the Latin alphabet. For some centuries, up to the 11th century, inscrip­ tions on coins were a mixture of Greek and Latin characters and words. Y. Nikolaou

Y. Nikolaou Unpublished

44. Solidus of Justinian I (527–65) 542–65 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.4 gr. MIB I, no. 7 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ 11970β’

43. Solidus of Justinian I (527–65) 542–65 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam: 0.0205 m., weight 4.33 gr. MIB I, no. 7 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 89 /1968 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVC = Dominus Noster Iustinianus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Justinian Perpetual Augustus.

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN IVSTINIANVS PP AVC = Dominus Noster Iustinianus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Justinian Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the emperor wearing a helmet, a diadem with prependoulia, and a cuirass. He holds a globus cruciger. Reverse: VICTORI AAVCCC Δ= Victoria Augustorum [officina] Δ = Victory of the Augusti. An angel holds a cruciform staff and a globus cruciger. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou Unpublished


47. Miliaresion of Theophilos (829–42)

45. Solidus of Constans II (641–68) 642–47 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.5 gr. MIB IΙΙ, no. 4a Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 121/1968

840–42 Mint: Constantinople Silver Diam. 0.025 m., weight 1.8 gr. DOC III, 1, Class V, no. 12.1ff. Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ Kindynes Collection 151/1968

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: δNCONSTANΤINVS PP AVC = Dominus Noster Constantinus Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Constantine Perpetual Augustus. Frontal bust of the crowned emperor. He holds a globe with a cross. Reverse: VICTORΙA AVGYΙ=Victoria Augusti (officina) I. Cross on a four-stepped base. In the exergue: CONOBΚ.

Obverse: Five-line inscription +ΘΕΟ-FILOSSMI-XAHLECΘE bASILISRO-MAION = Θεo’φιλος και Μιχαh’λ εκ Θεοu’ βασιλεi’ς Pωμαi’ων =Theophilos and Michael by God Emperors of the Romans. Triple circle of dots. Reverse: IhSYSXRI STYSNICA= Iησοu’ς Xριστo’ς Nικa’ (Jesus Christ conquers). A cross on a three-stepped base. Triple circle of dots. Y. Nikolaou

Y. Nikolaou Bibliography

Bibliography Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 271

Oeconomides-Caramessini 1968, 271.

46. Solidus of Anastasios I (491–518)

48. Hyperpyron of Alexios I Komnenos (1081–1118)

507–18 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.021 m., weight 4.2 gr. MIB I, no. 7 Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ 11911

1092/93–1118 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.032 m., weight 4.4 gr. DOC IV, 1, Var. I (B), no. 20d. 1ff. Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ 12471α’

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Obverse: DN ANASTASIVS PP AVC= Dominus Noster Anastasius Perpetuus Augustus = Our Lord Anastasios Perpetual Augustus. Bust of the emperor helmeted, diademed, cuirassed and holding a spear, turned to the right in three-quarter profile. Reverse: VICTORI AAVGGGΙ= Victoria Augustorum [officina] I = Victory of the Augusti . A victory holds a tall, gemmed cross surmounted by a Christogram. On the left in the field is a star. In the exergue: CONOB. Y. Nikolaou Unpublished


Obverse: KERO HΘEI= Ku’ριε βοh’θει (Lord help). Christ, enthroned and blessing, holds a closed, gem-studded Gospel book. IC XC (the initials of Jesus Christ) in the field. Reverse: ΛΛEZIΩ ΔECΠOTH TΩ KOMNHNΩ = To Alexios Despotes the Komnenos, inscription arranged in columnar fashion on either side. The emperor is crowned and wears a divetesion (long silk tunic) and chlamys. He holds a scepter and a globus cruciger. In the field, top right, the hand of God (Manus Dei) blesses him. Y. Nikolaou Unpublished

49 –50. Hoards

49. “ Hoard Eleusis / 1885”

Anxiety and insecurity in times of war and crises lead people to hide their valuables. Concealing coins and precious gold and silver plates and jewelry in the ground or in secret vaults in the home was the most common way of safeguarding accumulated wealth in an emergency such as wars, invasions, plagues, and natural disasters. The “treasures” of gold coins (i.e., coins made of precious metal with high purchasing power) are clearly a form of reserve. A collection of coins that is hidden by someone in the hope of reclaiming them once the danger or difficulty has passed and that is rediscovered later is called a “hoard.” If things do not turn out well for the owner of the hoard, then the collection of coins is likely to be found many years later, either by chance or in the course of systematic excavations. The concealment of the “Hoard Eleusis / 1885” may have been connected with the unrest created in the Byzantine province of Hellas in the last quarter of the 6th century by the waves of Slav invasions. A host of hoards of gold and copper coins were hidden in Attica and the Peloponnese at this time. The “Hoard Thessaloniki / before 1948,” with coins for the most part minted in that city, seems likely to express the intense anxiety created throughout Illyricum by the Arab and Slav attacks in the period 578–82. Its burial could also be connected with the siege of Thessaloniki in September of 586.

Eight 6th-century solidi (Justin II: 6; Tiberios II:1; Maurice:1) Probable date of concealment ca. 584 Found in a clay jar during excavations by the Archaeological Society at Athens Athens, Numismatic Museum, ΝΜ ΑΕ 1891/92 Β’ and the clay jar ΝΜ 1894–95, Ηα’, 8α’, β’ Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Y. Nikolaou Bibliography Syntagma BTh 2002, 54–55, no. 29; Trésors 2006, 245–46 no. 151.

Y. Nikolaou Bibliography Morrisson 2004, 334–37; Trésors 2006, 80 –82.

50. “ Hoard Thessaloniki / before 1948” 115 6th-century solidi and tremisses (Justinian I: 17 solidi and 8 tremisses; Justin II: 61 solidi and 23 tremisses; Imitativa Justin II: 1 solidus; Tiberios II: 4 solidi and 1 tremisses) Probable date of concealment after the first few years of Tiberios II’s reign, 578–82 Circumstances of discovery unknown Athens, Numismatic Museum, 8224 /1948 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Y. Nikolaou Bibliography

Oeconomides-Caramessini–Touratsoglou 1979, 289–312; Syntagma BTh 2002, 38–39, no. 22; Trésors 2006, 245–46, no. 151.



51c 51b









51. Artifacts from the Kratigos-Mytilene Treasure 6th–7th century Gold, silver, bronze Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 875, 879, 881, 882, 883, 888, 893, 899, 901, 905, 909 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The gold jewelry, silverware, and bronze seal were found by chance in 1951 in a treasure with other similar objects in the course of excavations on Lesbos in the Kratigos district just outside the island’s capital, Mytilene. The same treasure also contained thirty-two gold coins, four of the Emperor Phokas (602–10) and twenty-eight of Herakleios (610–41), of which the latest in date were struck between 616 and 625, giving the terminus post quem for the concealment of the treasure. Some of the gold jewelry exhibited here, such as the little amulet with the embossed cross (ΒΧΜ 875, cat. no. 51d) and the solid gold bracelets (ΒΧΜ 882 και ΒΧΜ 883, cat. nos. 51h–i) represent types that were quite widespread in the 6th and 7th centuries. By contrast, the chain with the round rinks and its crescent-shaped pendant with the openwork decoration (ΒΧΜ 879, cat. no. 51e), the almond-shaped buckle (ΒΧΜ 881, cat. no. 51f), and the ellipsoid bracelet with the monogram (ΒΧΜ 888, cat. no. 51g) are examples of relatively rare types of jewelry and certainly not within the reach of ordinary people. Moreover, the two stamped silver plates also belong to popular types, as do the silver spoons (ΒΧΜ 901, ΒΧΜ 905, cat. nos. 51a–b). On the base of the smaller plate (ΒΧΜ 893, cat. no. 51k) are five control stamps from the reign of Phokas that guarantee the purity of the metal. The plate is decorated in the center with a niello cross, while the trulla (ΒΧΜ 899, cat. no. 51j), with five seals on the base dating it to the reign of Herakleios, has an incised depiction of a naked Aphrodite on the handle. The bronze seal (ΒΧΜ 909, cat. no. 51c) with the embossed monogram, which may read “Μαυρικi’ου” (of Maurikios) or “Σταυρακi’ου” (of Staurakios), belonged to an official, probably a consul, as can be deduced from the depiction on the handle of an eagle with wings outspread, a motif that seems likely to be associated with consular rank.

The Kratigos find belongs to the group of treasure that includes other precious objects (such as silver plates and gold jewelry) beside coins. The find site must have been part of the estate of a wealthy, aristocratic family that numbered high public officials among its members, as the gold buckles, the gold monogrammed bracelet and the bronze seal indicate. Although the owners of the treasure were Christians, as the decoration on the silver plates and the gold amulet demonstrate, they still liked mythological subjects, as did most of the upper classes in this period. Similarly, they preserved many of the ideas of pre-Christian societies, relating to the apotropaic and supernatural properties of certain artifacts, such as amulets, which occupy an important place in the jewelry of the treasure (four out of twenty-two pieces). The concealment of the treasure in the first decades of the 7th century is likely to have been connected with hostile threats and the raids experienced in the eastern part of the empire and, of course, throughout the Asia Minor peninsula and the islands of the eastern Aegean. It is not impossible, as has been suggested, that the owners of the treasure fled in haste from the Asia Minor coast to Lesbos, where they hid their treasure, hoping to return some day and retrieve it. But, of course, this never happened. E. Chalkia Bibliography Touratsoglou-Chalkia 2008, 60–61, 68–69, 73–77, 82–83, 100 –103, 114–15, 118–21.


a surviving mold, used for the mass production of identical rectangular dishes, now at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentral­ museum in Mainz. According to this mold, the scene included another official, on the left side of the tribunal, wearing a mantle fastened with a fibula and holding a short scepter with his right hand. The two venatores in the arena, carrying a spear and a shield respectively, were surrounded by a stag and an ostrich. A small part of the stag’s antlers is also visible on the Benaki sherd, just below the ancient repair, thus verifying that the scene on this fragment was indeed made from an almost identical mold. A significant difference between the Benaki dish and the Mainz mold is the inclusion of the inscription MUNERA XXX on the latter, above the tribunal, a detail that is clearly missing from the present example. The Mainz mold comes from El Djem, in Tunisia, a major center for the production of red slipware in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. The same provenance is possible for the Benaki fragment as well. The decoration of this type of dish was repeated for mass production and somewhat simplified the scenic representations of public spectacles that decorated the sumptuous and exclusive consular diptychs carved in ivory. A. Drandaki Bibliography Age of Spirituality 1979, 92–93, no. 83 [S. R. Zwirn]; Garbsch 1980, 173 E2, 178, fig. 16; on the mold now in the Römisch-Germanisches

52. Fragment of a Clay Dish ca. 360–430 North African workshop (Tunisia, probably El Djem) Red slipware H. 0.145 m., w. 0.094 m. Donated by Loukas Benakis, 1959 Athens, Benaki Museum, 12427

Zentralmuseum in Mainz, see Demandt – Engemann 2007, no. I.17.37 [J. Engemann].

Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

The sherd comes from a rectangular dish (lanx quadrata), made of the fine red slipware for which the North African workshops became famous in Late Antiquity throughout the Roman world. An ancient repair made of lead, visible on the lower right of the sherd, bears witness to the long-lasting appreciation the owners had for this type of high-quality pottery. Only the upper right part of the composition is preserved, showing a tribunal with three seated officials wearing senatorial togas. The higher social and political status of the central figure is visually underlined by his larger scale, the crown on his head and the mappa he carries, the cloth in his right hand with which the beginning of the games in the circus and the amphitheater was being signaled. The three officials are seated behind an elaborately decorated parapet. To their left, another crowned official presents unfolded for display the valuable garment offered to the victorious venator, as part of his prize. Two venatores are partly preserved standing in the arena below the tribunal, the one to the right carrying a rectangular shield. The missing parts of the scene that once decorated the Benaki dish can be reconstructed fairly accurately on the basis of


53. Lamp Handle 4th–5th century Copper H. 0.08 m., w. 0.094 m., thickness 0.04 m. From Olympia Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, BXM 63 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Only the upper part of the handle (i.e., about half of it) survives. Cast in a mold, it has openwork decoration consisting of two horses resting their heads against a palm tree. The whole scene is enclosed in a narrow band, which forms a small conical out­growth at the top. Judging by an identical handle in the Museum of the Campo Santo Teutonico in Rome, the ellipsoid band ended in a fine string at the bottom where it was soldered to the lamp, whereas the trunk of the tree and the horses’ legs were attached to a corded horizontal spur, which sprang from just above the base of the handle. A very interesting feature is the engraved motifs on the horses’ flanks, recalling the marks actually branded with hot irons onto various parts of the bodies of horses competing in the hippodrome, both as apotropaic symbols and for good luck. Moreover, the presence of the palm, a symbol of victory, between the two animals, represents success in equestrian races. In the 4th century, scenes featuring winning horses and the hippodrome in general had widespread distribution; this is related to the intense popularity of the contests in the hippodrome and the mania for horses at that time. The fact that the handle with the victorious horses was found at Olympia, the city where the Olympic Games were held, at least up to the late 4th century but very probably even after they were banned in 393, cannot be unrelated to the continuation of ancient customs, despite the fact that the city had begun to be Christianized. Bibliography

E. Chalkia

Dölger 1932, 47–50; Frühchristliche Kunst 1962, 143, no. 262; Chalkia 1999.

The bottom of an open glass vessel has been preserved with a depiction of a quadriga. The glass vessel was broken along the ring encircling the base, and the cut was then probably grozed, so that the surviving part takes the form of a medallion. The paint has flaked off or been completely erased over a large part of the scene. On the left-hand side, traces of the charioteer are preserved. He holds a wreath in his right hand and in his left a palm, both symbols of victory. The horses are depicted in motion, rearing up on their hind legs in a triumphal pose. In the lower part the names of the charioteer, Chryse, and the names of the four horses, Hylas, Evangelos, Italos, and Adrias, are inscribed in black paint. The Benaki Museum glass medallion is one of the few examples of late Roman glassware with cold-painted decoration on the outside of the bottom. Cold-painting makes the colors more fragile, which probably accounts for the extensive damage to the scene. In any case, this delicate form of decoration suggests that the vessel was not intended for everyday use, but was rather a decorative object for display purposes. There are several examples of later Roman glassware with similar decoration either painted or incised. The hippodrome was a fundamental feature of the urban fabric, and the importance of the contests for the social and political life of a city is attested not only in documentary sources and the corresponding architectural remains, but also by a host of objects with imagery relating to the contests and spectacles of the hippodrome. Similar depictions of victorious quadrigas were the subject of late Roman mosaics, as two almost identical scenes on 3rd- and 4th-century mosaics in Argos and Thessaloniki attest. Indeed, the names of the horses and the charioteer were often inscribed on these scenes. Apart from numerous scenes on mosaic pavements, such as those mentioned above, similar decoration is found on contorniates and metalwork, as well as on more mass-produced ceramics. A. Drandaki Bibliography Clairmont 1977, 22, no. 66. See also Age of Spirituality 1979, nos. 89– 98; Dunbabin 1982; Glass Cosmos 2010, 116.

54. Bottom of Glass Vessel 4th century Transparent glass with greenish tint, painted decoration Diam. 0.117 m. Athens, Benaki Museum, 3467 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens


55. Beaker Late 4th century Eastern Mediterranean Blown and cut glass H. 0.108 m., diam. 0.099 m. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1959  59.11.14 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

The vessel has been broken, and many large pieces are missing. This glass beaker shows the figure of a charioteer being pulled by four horses racing in a hippodrome. The image has been etched into the surface of the glass and rendered in a stylized fashion. The figure is depicted in his chariot looking back over his shoulder, presumably to a competitor he has passed, and he gestures with one hand. Behind him is an abstract architectural representation that is difficult to interpret; it is possible that it is supposed to depict the carceres (monumental starting gate) of the hippodrome. The charioteer holds the reins with his other hand as his four horses charge ahead. The horses give the impression of moving forward by their diagonal placement, the hoofs of their front legs raised high and their back legs stretching out behind them. They are shown with plumed headdresses and rings encircling the bottom of their legs. Another figure is partially intact, and the top of a palm branch, symbolizing victory, can be seen. Toward the bottom of the vessel is a band of hatched lines, the top band inscribed in Greek with the name of the charioteer ΕVΤVΧ (Euthyches or Eutychides) and the names of his horses, three of which can still be read: ΑΡΕΘΟVC (Arethous, named after the rapid spring), ΝΙΛΟC (Nilos, named after the Nile River), and ΠVΡΙΠΝΟVC (Pyripnous, meaning fire-breather). Objects like this glass beaker demonstrate the popularity of the spectacle of the hippodrome and the notoriety that could be gained by successful charioteers.

56. Plaque Inscribed with Names of Olympic Champions 385 Copper H. 0.8 m., w. 0.35 m., thickness 0.05 m.; the depth doubles in the lower part Found in 1994 in the ancient clubhouse of the Athletes’ Guild, Olympia Olympia, History of the Olympic Games Museum, Β 1148 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Preserved intact with just a small part missing on the lower right-hand side. Inscribed copper plaque with a record of the names of Olympic champions from the 1st century bc to 385 (the 291st Olympiad), which gives us the latest date for the holding of the Olympic Games in antiquity known to date, just eight years before Theodosios I issued the edict prohibiting them in 393. The names are inscribed for different periods and with large intervals between them. At the bottom of the plaque are two incised wreaths. It must be the official record of victors belonging to some athletes’ guild. G. Chatzi-Spiliopoulou

K. Marsengill Bibliography


Smith 1957, no. 354; Age of Spirituality 1979, 99–100, cat. no. 90.

Kyrieleis – Herrmann 2003, 20–21, fig. 21.


57. Marriage Ring of Aristophanes and Vigilantia Late 4th–early 5th century Byzantine Gold Diam. 0.025 m., weight 21.78 gr. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1947.18

58. Ring with a Pair of Busts 6th–7th century Gold Diam. 0.02 m. Athens, The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, Π 126 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Profile portraits of a couple face each other with a small cross placed just above their foreheads. The names of man and wife appear along the edges, but the letters are in reverse, signaling that the deeply carved bezel served as a seal—the ring would be pressed into a soft material such as wax or clay, leaving an image in relief. This image would have the man on the right and the woman on the left, the usual placement on marriage rings, and the letters in proper reading order: ARICTOFANHC, up the left side and along the top; OUIGIL(a)NTIA (the first alpha having been left out), across the top then down the right side. This is a rare instance of a marriage ring executed in such deep intaglio, suggesting that it was an important instrument for sealing documents or household items, and possibly both. The fact that it weighs almost the equivalent of five solidi (the solidus was the gold coin of exchange) reflects its very high value and suggests, although it cannot be proven, that it was part of the nuptial donation (from husband to wife) or dowry contract. The double-profile portrait ring is an inheritance from Roman usage, but the hairstyles of the figures place the ring in the period of the Theodosian emperors and empresses (379–457), most likely in the early 5th century. The prominent fibula that Aristophanes wears on his right shoulder (in the “corrected” impression) is a sign of his high social status. In its direct way of adapting traditional Roman marital imagery for a Christianized society, this ring stands at the beginning of a development that will continue over the next three hundred years, leading to the fully formulated Christian marriage ring type (see cat. nos. 59, 60). This is one of the finest intaglio rings of its time. S. Zwirn

Preserved in fairly good condition. The surface of the bezel is somewhat damaged by use. The hoop is cylindrical in cross-section, and attached to it is a disc-shaped bezel with a scene probably stamped with a mold. The image is encircled by a wavy line. Two busts are depicted on either side of a Latin cross with a long upright. The facial features of the two figures cannot be discerned; nevertheless, it is clear that there is a male figure on the left and a female figure on the right. The hair of both figures is depicted in stylized fashion and looks more like some sort of head covering than hair. Details of the draperies are also lacking, apart from the appearance of what is probably a clasp on the right shoulder of the male figure. The inscription ΧΑΡΙC (grace) appears below the busts. Given the paired figures, the ring could be a wedding ring, an interpretation reinforced by the presence of the inscription ΧΑΡΙC, which is found on such rings either alone or as ΘΕΟΥ ΧΑΡΙC (the grace of God). In this case, the couple would be newlyweds under the protection of the cross. However, a different interpretation proposed for these rings identifies the two figures with Constantine and Helena. The iconographical model for the scene undoubtedly goes back to coin imagery depicting two emperors on either side of a cross, which first appeared in 527 on coins of the emperors Justin I and Justinian I. Initially, the cross between the figures was small and on a level with their heads, whereas on coins of Constantine IV and those from the second reign of Justinian II, it was bigger and divided the two figures. The closest iconographical parallels for the Canellopoulos Museum ring are found on the medallions of a necklace from Mersina, dated to the late 6th century. A. Zarkadas

Bibliography Ross 1965 and 2005, no. 50; Vikan 1990, 148–49, fig. 4; Kalavrezou


2003, no. 123 [J. L. Heuser].

Spieser 1972, 128–29, no. 11; Skampavias – Chatzidaki 2007, 54, cat. no. 42.


59. Marriage Ring

60. Marriage Ring

6th–7th century Gold and niello Diam. 0.024 m., weight 13.57 gr. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1953.12.4

6th–7th century Gold Diam. 0.02 m., weight 4.40 gr. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1969.77

Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

Except for missing areas of niello in the figures, the condition of this ring is excellent. In contrast to the marriage ring inscribed for Aristophanes and Vigilantia (cat. no. 57), whose religious affiliation is expressed by a small cross, this ring reflects a dominant Christian ideology. A cross and the bust of Christ with a prominent crosshalo form the central axis on the bezel, flanked by anonymous frontal busts of a bride and groom. Crowns, elements of the wedding ceremony, appear above the heads of the couple and OMONOIA—harmony or concord—is inscribed below a fine line. The inlay material is niello, an alloy of silver, sulfur, and traces of other metals, which renders a shiny black surface when heated. That the bride and groom are not named suggests the ring is of a general type made for any couple who could afford such a luxury. The couple did share with other members of society the belief that their commitment was blessed by Christ and that matrimony was a religious contract witnessed by the church as symbolized by the cross. Although it was not until the reign of emperor Leo VI (886–912) that marriage was required to take place in a church, this and many related rings reveal that the ceremony—which probably took place in a home—was understood in clearly religious terms well before the statute was written. OMONOIA is the most frequent inscription on marriage rings of this period. It conveys the hope for concord in the bond of marriage, and it has been persuasively argued that it also functioned as an amuletic invocation against ill-intentioned wishes for a couple’s marriage. In this respect, the inscription on the ring had an apotropaic function, following earlier pagan and Christian practices when images, words, or a combination of the two were worn to protect the wearer. S. Zwirn

The ring has lost most of its niello inlay and the hoop is broken through behind the bezel. Overall, it is in fair condition. Like the ring inscribed OMONOIA (cat. no. 59), this marriage ring has a large cross with the bust of Christ above it forming the central axis of the bezel. To the left and right of the cross are busts of the bride and groom, a generic couple without names. The bride seems to wear a crown with three projecting elements, while an arc over the groom’s head may indicate his crown. QEOU (of God) flanks the bust of Christ and CARIC (grace) appears in the lower portion of the bezel. Little is known about how rings were used in the ritual of marriage during the early Byzantine period. Because of the lack of information, it may be supposed that some rings had a role in betrothal ceremonies, as well as at marriages. The imagery and the inscriptions communicate across the centuries some of the fundamental ideas and hopes associated with this significant event in which both the man and the woman changed social status. Although CARIC has been connected to ideas associated with health, the grace of God seems rather to be a quality of physical or social (and perhaps even intellectual) charm. An aspect that might be considered part of the attraction between the soon-to-be-wed, or the newlyweds, is understood as coming from and under the protection of Christ and the cross. Those aspects most associated with marriage through the inscriptional evidence on rings—harmony, grace, and health—seem to be invoked subtly for opposing reasons: to endow the newly married couple with these qualities and to invoke the protection of Christ and the cross against any force that might undermine those very qualities. The image(s) and word(s) thus served a double function at this crucial moment in the young couple’s life. S. Zwirn

Bibliography Kantorowicz 1960, 11, no. 51, fig. 27a; Ross 1965 and Ross 2005, no. 67;


Vikan 1990, 151–52, fig. 13, 153 (discussion of ομνοια); Walker 2001,

Ross 2005, no. 68; Vikan 1990 (discussion of χρις), 153ff.; Walker

151, fig. 9.3, and 153ff.; Walker 2002, 61–64 (discussion of ομνοια).

2002 (discussion of χρις), 63ff.


61. Signet Ring 5th–6th century Gold Diam. of hoop 0.021 m., bezel: h. 0.06 m., w. 0.07 m. Purchase Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 201 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

62. Episcopal Signet Ring 5th century Gold Diam. 0.024 m., l. 0.03 m. From Beirut Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 524 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The circular hoop has bead-and-reel relief decoration. The pierced, stilted, cylindrical bezel is of a type rarely encountered and is made up of two circular discs, which are joined together with eight column-shaped supports. The upper disc has the inscription ΥΓΙΑ ΜΑΚΕΔΟΝΙΩ ([good] health to Makedonios), carved in reverse in four lines, which suggests that the ring was used as a seal. At the same time the inscribed invocation on the ring endows it with apotropaic properties, which protects its owner from all sorts of illnesses. The custom of wearing amuletic jewelry, often with magic symbols or phrases intended to drive away evil and ill health, goes back to antiquity, a practice also mentioned by ancient authors, who often lampoon it. Jewelry with similar invocatory inscriptions referring to the health, happiness, and longevity of their owners, written in Greek or Latin or sometimes in a hybrid language, is found from the 3rd to the 6th century. S. Gerogiorgi Bibliography Helleniko kosmema 1997, 179, no. 192; Yeroulanou 1999, 165;

This ring consists of a broad hoop with two grooves encircling it and with finely incised lines decorating the space between them. A bunch of grapes is depicted on each side up to the top of the bezel. The grapes have been rendered using the technique of granulation, whereas the leaves are in relief. The elliptical bezel is decorated with a concave fish and three concave Maltese crosses. On the vertical surface of the bezel is a groove decorated with very fine incised lines. At the point where the bezel is attached to the hoop are two rows of relief spherules bordered on either side by bunches of grapes. The hoop is slightly squashed at the bottom, at the point facing the bezel. This particular type of ring is part of a category of simple jewelry that either included wedding rings or took the form of signet rings with the name of the head of the family. Their simplicity and the use, in the former case, of Christian symbols, such as a fish, an anchor, or birds, are their main characteristics. The use of simple pieces of jewelry reflects a more widespread ethos, prevalent in the early years of Christianity, whereby the Church Fathers discouraged the generalized use of elaborate finery.

Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 438, no. 570.

A. Gadolou Bibliography Stathatos Collection III, 1963, 283, pl. xli, 199; Hellenika Kosmemata 1999, 314 [A. Yeroulanou].


63. Earring 6th–7th century Gold H. 0.051 m., w. 0.045 m. Purchase Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 173 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The semicircular hook is attached to the crescent-shaped hoop, which has pierced and granular decoration in two registers. In the lower register, two vine scrolls and bunches of grapes alternate with pecking peacocks, while in the upper register the same vine scroll motif encircles an equal-armed cross and inscribes it in a circle. Six small gold beads are attached to the outer edge of the hoop. As regards the shape and the techniques used in its production, this type of earring is very widespread in the 6th and 7th centuries, though the decorative motifs can vary a good deal. On this earring the cross, the symbol par excellence of Christianity, is found side by side with motifs popular in antiquity that were adopted and incorporated into Christian iconography. The vine, the plant sacred to the god Dionysos, acquired new symbolism in the new religion, signifying Christ, while the grapes became the Apostles and the Christian believers. The peacock, sacred to the goddess Hera, became in Christian times a symbol of everlasting life and heavenly bliss. Their presence on the earring together with the cross can be interpreted as a symbolic depiction of the Resurrection.

64. Earrings 4th–6th century Gold and paste H. 0.032 m., w. 0.016 m. Purchase Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 178 a-b

Each earring consists of a fine ring, which ends in a hook and a catch, which form the fastening. On the upper part of each ring is attached an unusual shaped mount filled with blue glass. From the lower part hang pear-shaped pendants in the same color paste strung on wire chains. This type of earring with the simple, ring-shaped hook continues the Hellenistic tradition with some modifications. In the early Christian period it is found in different versions, as regards decoration and the stringing of the stones. Clement of Alexandria, one of the great Church Fathers, urged women to shun all luxury, to embrace simplicity and to be pious (Paedagogus ΙΙΙ, ΙΒ, 20ff.), while he discouraged them from piercing their ears and wearing earrings: “and let not their ears be pierced, contrary to nature, in order to attach to them studs and pendant earrings” (ibid., 62ff.). Despite that, the large number of earrings that have survived by comparison with other types of jewelry, indicates that they were women’s favorite form of ornament; this means that the injunctions of Clement of Alexandria and of the other Church Fathers fell on deaf ears. S. Gerogiorgi

S. Gerogiorgi



Helleniko kosmema 1997, 191, no. 214; Υeroulanou 1999, 279–95,

Marshall 1911, 288, nos. 2446, 2447, 296, nos. 2559, 2560, 294,

nos. 475–588, esp. 293, no. 574.

no. 2542; Higgins 1961, 183; Ross 1965, 2, no. 1E, pl. iii; Stathatos Collection IV 1971, 83, no. 643, pl. xiv; Helleniko kosmema 1997, 177, no. 188, Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 424, no. 543.


65. Earrings Linked by a Chain 6th–7th century Gold and pearls L. 0.32 m.; hoop: d. 0.023 m. Chios Hoard Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 518

66. Armlets 5th–6th century Gold Max. diam. 0.061, 0.062 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 715 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

A pair of gold earrings linked by a chain. Each earring consists of an open hoop made from a circular gold rod, one end of which ends in a sphere with a hole in it, into which the other end of the hoop fits. To each large hoop three smaller ones are attached from which hang braided chains ending in yet smaller rings. A gold ball marks the point at which each ring is attached to a hoop. A corrugated strip of gold is wrapped around the end of the chain and secures the suspension hook. A wire, to which are fixed a gold ball and a pearl, is suspended from the bottom ring. From the innermost ring on each hoop hangs a chain that has five regularly spaced discs with two tiny spheres on each rim. From the middle disc hangs an identical piece of chain with a disc in the middle, to which is attached a thin strip of gold ending in a hook, from which some precious stone or amulet probably once hung. When worn, this piece of jewelry gave the impression of a necklace combined with earrings. This fashion of combining the two individual elements into one piece of jewelry is known from antiquity and continues to be found in the work of modern Greek silversmiths. A. Gadolou

Two identical gold armlets. The bands are made of two solid cylindrical small tubes, round in cross-section and divided into three parts. The ends of each piece are wound with small ridged gold sheet-strips for attachment. Between the small tubes are set five upright discs at regular intervals: one disc is in the middle of the back of the bracelet, while two others have been set in each of the two adjacent parts. In the center, on the front, there is a circular receptacle on a two-stepped, hexagonal base. A tri­angular opening in the lower part of this base reveals that the interior was filled with some porous material, which has a very small hole in it. The bracelet is fastened at two points with double swivels with semicircular calyciform ends (one of them is missing on both armlets). The armlets in the Stathatos Collection are of Syrian manu­ facture and find their closest parallels in two similar armlets in New York (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 17.190.2054) and Berlin (Museum für Byzantinische Kunst, 4926). The receptacles on these two bracelets most probably contained holy relics to protect their owners. It is likely that the same applied to the examples in Athens, although it has also been proposed that their receptacles held some sort of resin, inserted after soldering to avoid distorting the piece of jewelry. C. Avronidaki

Bibliography Stathatos Collection III 1963, 13–14, pl. i, 1 [É. Coche de la Ferté];


Pierides 1971, 55, pl. xxxviii, 4–5; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 431,

Collection Stathatos IV 1971, 72–73, no. st. 715, pl. xii [J.-P. Sodini];

no. 555 [S. Faitaki].

Hellenika kosmemata 1999, 312 (no. 114), fig. 227 [A. Yeroulanou].


67. Armlet 4th–7th century Glass Diam. 0.092 m., d. 0.016–0.018 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 448 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Deposits between ridges. Slightly abraded, flaked and chipped in places. The armlet, made from a rod of light green glass, is flattened and ellipsoid in cross-section. It has horizontal ridges and is narrower and smooth at the joint. Cheap pieces of finery for young people and the less welloff, glass bracelets were particularly widespread as early as the empire and in the early Christian period. They were made from glass rods, semicircular or circular in cross-section and in different colors, and they often remain undecorated or decorated with imprinted marks, cuttings, and inlay. The production of glass bracelets continued into the middle Byzantine period. C. Avronidaki Unpublished

68. Fibula 3rd–4th century Gold and rock crystal L. 0.151 m.; bird: l. 0.018 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 521 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Gold fibula with head of rock crystal. Complete, apart from a small part of the tip. A triple granulated ring with spherules in relief divides the pin of the fibula into two parts. The lower part is decorated with very fine gold wire wound tightly around the middle part of the pin. The upper part is relief and ends in a double scroll, like an Ionic capital. To the head of the fibula is attached a bird in rock crystal set in the end of the shaft. The bird’s inlaid eyes are missing. G. Kavvadias Bibliography Stathatos Collection III 1963, 282, no. 201, pl. xli; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 398–99, no. 497 [I. P. Varalis] (on Byzantine fibulae).


69. Necklace 6th century Gold, enamel, pearls, emerald crystals, glass paste L. 0.517 m.; clasp: diam. 0.03 m. Athens, The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, Π 513 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The necklace consists of a gold chain and alternating pearls, glass paste, and semiprecious stones. To be precise, there are eleven pearls of unequal size, six flattened, spherical beads made of light blue glass paste, and seven cylindrical, irregularly cut beads made of emeralds. The chain is made up of doubled wire links and terminates at one end in a hook and at the other in a large disc decorated with cloisonné enamel. Two smaller, single links, soldered to the disc diametrically opposite one another, were used to attach the hook and to join onto the chain, respectively. The disc, which acts as the clasp for the necklace, is made of flat sheet gold on the base and is decorated with gold and enamel on the top. It is edged with two bands, of which the

outer one has granular decoration. The inner one has a pierced decorative motif made up of four diametrically opposed palmettes, alternating at their bases with small, flattened discs and joined at the top to form the central circle. The palmettes and the discs are decorated with green enamel, and the spaces between them are filled with red enamel. The necklace belongs to a type that was very widespread throughout the empire from as early as the Roman period, characterized by the inclusion in a gold chain of alternating metals, stones, or paste elements. The diametrically opposed palmettes on the clasp and the alternating colors of the enamel, which probably make up a cruciform decorative motif, date the necklace to the Byzantine period, when the motif of the cross replaced the Roman wheel on the decoration of the clasp. A. Zarkadas Unpublished


70. Necklace ca. 330–50 Gold, precious stones H. 0.128 m., w. 0.228 m., open-work plaques: h. 0.026 m., w. 0.022 m. From Polis Chrysochous (ancient Marion), Paphos District, Cyprus Athens, Museum of Cycladic Art, The Thanos N. Zintilis Collection of Ancient Cypriot Art, Z.0438.1

The necklace from Cyprus has been interpreted as a diadem based on 4th-century representations on coins and statues or as an ornament sewn to a ceremonial robe. This view, supported by the absence of clasps and the presence of side holes and wire frames at the back of the elements, is corroborated by its recovery from a tomb together with more jewelry and personal items attributed to a woman of the higher social rank. Comparanda in Athens, the Louvre, and the Walters Art Museum show piercedwork jewelry mounted with stones.

Photo © Museum of Cycladic Art

M. Dhoga-Toli

The necklace is well preserved; twelve precious stones are missing and there is no trace of a clasp. The necklace is composed of six rectangular plaques in openwork technique decorated with fine scrolls and sapphires in oval settings. They alternate with fifteen figure-of-eight elements, mounted with emeralds and garnets, which are separated in between by a pearl threaded on gold wire. A plaque with a rectangular emerald and an attached pendant below form the centerpiece of the necklace. This unique item is a fine example of the technique often referred to as opus interrasile, a term originating with Pliny (Natural History XII.94), although the Greek term diatreta (pierced) is also used as more accurate. It encompasses a distinctive category of jewelry encountered in Mediterranean regions from the 3rd to the 7th century, characterized by thin gold sheets, creating a lace-like effect, often combined with precious stones. Regional workshops remain unidentified but the wide distribution of types attests to innovations introduced, at periods of economic paucity, by goldsmiths who continued to draw on Hellenistic and late Roman traditions for shapes and decorative motifs.


Bibliography Grabar 1966, pl. 209; Metzger 1980, 4–5; Ogden 1982, 34, 43; Ogden – Schmidt 1990, 5–8, 10–12; Oliver 1996, 140; Tatton-Brown 1997, 61; Yeroulanou 1999, 15–27, 39–43, 90–91, 191–97, 208, nos. 31–34; Lubsen-Admiraal 2004, 272, 316–17, nos. 692, 693; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, 409, no. 120 [M. Dhoga-Toli]; Yeroulanou 2008, 163–87, nos. 119–122, 126.

71. Amulet

72. Cross

6th–7th century Cornelian and gold H. 0.025 m., w. 0.018 m., h. with mount and hook 0.035 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 533

5th century Gold H. 0.05 m., max. l. 0.035 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 939

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Cornelian and gold amulet. Intact. Ellipsoid in shape, the amulet is flat on one side and curved on the other. On the curved surface is a bust of Christ Pantokrator. On either side of the head are the letters ΙC and XC (the abbreviation for Jesus Christ). The flat side is inlaid with a gold cross with pyramidal cross-arms. At the center of the cross is a semiprecious, green lenticular stone. Around the edge the mount of fine gold wire ends in a shaft with a suspension hook. G. Kavvadias Unpublished

Preserved in good condition, apart from a small piece of gold missing from the right side of the upper cross arm and a small hole, which has been sealed with white amalgam, on the back of the right-hand cross-arm. The cross has an integral suspension ring. All four crossarms, the lower one slightly elongated, are rounded and display a red stone; a smaller cross with flared arms made of the same red stone occupies the central point. The back is undecorated. The cross is an exceptional example of the goldsmith’s art of the 5th century, in which gold is harmoniously combined with precious stones. Similar crosses, symbols of Christianity and strongly talismanic in nature, seem to have been widely dis­tributed in the eastern empire between the 5th and 7th centuries. E. Vivliodetis Unpublished


to be purely Byzantine in origin and probably products of a Constantinopolitan workshop, contrary to earlier theories about their having been imported to Byzantium from abroad. E. Vivliodetis Bibliography Stathatos Collection III 1963, 283, no. 200, pl. xli; L’Art Byzantin 1964, 375, no. 423; conf. Touratsoglou – Chalkia 2008, 116–17.

73. Belt Buckle 5th century Gold L. 0.074 m., buckle: w. 0.03 m. Athens, National Archaeological Museum, Stathatos Collection, Στ. 523 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The buckle consists of an ellipsoid hoop with a movable tongue in the shape of a drop and a lyre-shaped belt plate. The hoop is attached to the plate by seven spherules, of which the middle ones can be seen only from the back and hold the tongue in place; the plate and the hoop are attached to the next two spherules and the outside ones. On the back of the plate, three rings—one in the center of the lower part and two at the corners of the upper part—were used to attach the belt. The cast plate, with a solid, concave back, is divided into two parts on the upper face. A large, vertical, drop-shaped element is decorated with seven petals in relief with a pierced area in the center decorated with geometric motifs. The other two reversed elements are smaller and decorated with three petals. Between these and the spherules is a pierced plate decorated with geometric motifs. The band surrounding the decorative elements of the plate has rope decoration. The buckle belongs to the type known as lyre-shaped buckles, usually made of gold or bronze and with many variations in decorative motifs and techniques. This type was widespread, especially in the 6th and 7th centuries, throughout the Byzantine empire. Buckles of this type are now considered


74. Comb with Personifications of Rome and Constantinople Second half of the 6th century Alexandrian workshop (?) Ivory H. 0.163 m., l. 0.055 m., w. 0.006 m. Purchased from the antiquities dealer Daguerre in Paris, 10 October 1925 Athens, Benaki Museum, 10287 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

The comb is rectangular and bordered by two sets of teeth, thick and spaced at one end and fine and dense at the other. Certain losses of teeth or parts of teeth do not affect the impression of its good condition and the quality of its decoration. The per­sonifications of the capital cities of the Roman Empire, seated under ciboria, are represented in low relief on either side of the compact core. The goddess Roma is typically rendered as a helmeted Amazon holding a spear and a globe, and the Tyche of Constantinople has the standard turreted crown on her head and holds a torch and a cornucopia.

Although the comb was acquired from the art market, its provenance from Coptic Egypt is acknowledged. The comb displays the characteristic features of the well-known wooden compact combs (see Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, no. 632 [I. D. Varalis]). It is, however, one of the few combs made of ivory that have come down to us (cf. Volbach 1976, nos. 88–88c, 202–6; Caillet 1985, no. 51; Ägypten 1996, no. 202 [M. von Falck]; L’art copte 2000, no. 277 [M.-H. Rutschowskaya]). The portrayal of Rome and Constantinople is an exceptional decoration inspired by imperial iconography, which makes the comb unique of its type. The representations of the two deities originate from late 4th- or early 5th-century models, like the silver gilded statuettes from the Esquiline treasure (Cormack –  Vassilaki 2008, no. 10 [M. Mundell Mango]), but certain details point to a date in the second half of the 6th century: the ciboria are similar to those of a comb at the Coptic Museum, Cairo, and a pyxis at the British Museum, London (Volbach 1976, nos. 204 and 167, respectively). Moreover, the close stylistic affinities with a bone pyxis lid found on the floor of a house at Alexandria, dated to the later 6th century and the first half of the 7th (Rodziewicz 1984, 243–45, fig. 169; Rodziewicz 1998, 143, fig. 6), suggest that the comb may also have been produced by an ivory and bone workshop of this city (Varalis 2002). It is unknown if this comb was intended for daily use for cleaning the hair, making it tidy, and combing off lice and dirt, but the relatively precious material and its unequaled decoration suggest that it was used as a marriage gift or a burial offering for a high-ranking member of Alexandrian society. I. D. Varalis Bibliography L’Art Byzantin 1964, no. 30 [A. Karakatsani]; Volbach 1976, no. 88b, pl. 49; Splendeur de Byzance 1982, no. Iv.1 [L. Bouras]; Cutler 1984b, 56, 61, pl. vi; Bühl 1995, 156–57, figs. 81, 82; Delivorrias – Fotopoulos 1997, 177, figs. 301, 302; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, no. 631 [I. D. Varalis]; Varalis 2002; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, no. 167 [I. D. Varalis]; Istanbul 2010, no. 105.

75. Mirror with Handle 500–700 Silver Diam. 0.233 m., h. 0.028 cm Part of the Antioch treasure (?) New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1947  47.100.35 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

A hole located near the edge and splits in the silver have been repaired. The handle has been reattached. The club-shaped soldering plates that form the feet of the handle are broken. The surface of the reverse is pitted. The front of the silver disc is slightly concave and would have been highly polished into a reflective surface. The back of the mirror has an incised circle marking its center and two concentric circles near the edge. The handle, which widens slightly in the middle, has been given the appearance of two fingers extended outward from a center collar with a leaf design chased in the surface. A raised rim is decorated with a tight, overlapping pattern of leaves. The mirror was cast and turned on a lathe, and the handle was also cast and then soldered to the reverse. The mirror may have been part of a hoard of silver comprising numerous liturgical objects that was discovered in 1910, if not in Antioch, then in the general region. Christian churches often owned vast amounts of precious objects and other riches that were given as gifts from donors. The mirror, an everyday object without religious purpose, was apparently offered to a church, where it was stored for its monetary value. At some point—possibly just before or after the area was attacked—a hoard of silver objects was buried, including patens, chalices, crosses, and other liturgical instruments, as well as this mirror, and then was eventually abandoned. K. Marsengill Bibliography Early Christian Art 1947, no. 393; Mango 1986, 213, cat. 48; Mango 2003, 72–73, fig. 9.20.


76. Apotropaic Amulet

77. Pendant Amulet

5th–6th century Copper alloy Max. diam. 0.06 m. Thessaloniki, Tsolozides Collection, ΣΤ 5

6th–8th century Copper alloy Overall h. 0.033 m., w. 0.016 m. Thessaloniki, Tsolozides Collection, ΣΤ 103

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The amulet consists of two separate thin sheets of copper alloy, ellipsoid in shape, displaying stamped decoration imprinted using a mold. On one side on a roundel with granular decoration the “much suffering eye” (πολυπαθh’ς οφθαλμo’ς) is surrounded by hostile symbols, such as a trident and two daggers, and threatening beasts, such as a lion, leopard, snake, scorpion, and ibis. In the upper part, the amulet is inscribed ΚΥΡΙΕ ΒΟΗΘΙ (Lord help!) and there are crosses lower down to right and left. On the other side, in a similar roundel with granulation, a haloed horseman is depicted in military dress, riding a horse that is galloping toward the right. He holds a spear ending in a cross and is killing a female demon, which lies supine under the horse’s hooves. Lower down, a quadruped, probably a lion, is racing as swiftly as the horse. At the top on the right is a star. The much suffering eye and the holy rider, very common motifs in early Christian art, mainly on objects from Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, are expressions of strength and apotropaic powers. The much suffering eye is encountered for the first time in the Testament of Solomon, a text of the 3rd century: “I am called Phthenoth, I [can] cast the evil eye on any man, [and] therefore I am frustrated by representations of the much suffering eye” (Εγw’ Φθηνθ καλοu’μαι, βασκαi’νω παντi’ ανθρw’πω, καταργεi’ με ουν ο οφθαλμo’ς πολυπαθh’ς εγχαραττo’μενος, PG 122, 1345). Thus, its depiction was aimed at getting rid of the evil eye. The motif of the holy rider was not intended to depict a particular person or some historical event, but it invoked the power to win and in broader terms the victory of good over evil. In the early Christian period the holy rider is identified with King Solomon or, more rarely, with St. Sissinios, who killed Alabasdria, or Gyllou, who slaughtered newborn babies, mainly males. P. Kambanis Bibliography Tsolozides Collection 2001, 17–18, no. 3; L’approccio 2002, 20–21, no. 5; Kambanis 2002, 92–95; Kambanis 2002b 138, no. 178; Kambanis 2006, 11–30.


The pendant consists of two horseshoe-shaped sheets of copper alloy joined with a hinge. A broad suspension hoop is held in place by a pin. The decoration is incised. There is a symbolic image with two confronted birds on the outer face of both parts. These are the birds of life, a subject found very frequently in Coptic art. On one of the two inner faces is depicted a bust of a young, beardless Christ with a cruciform halo, surrounded by the triumphal phrase ΗC/ΧC – ΝΗ/ΚΑ (Jesus Christ conquers). The other face bears the inscribed invocation + ΚΕ ΒΟΗ / ΘΗ ΤΟΝ ΔΟ/ΛΟC ΝΗ / ΚΗΤΑΝ / ΑΜΗΝ (Lord help [thy] servant Niketas amen). P. Kambanis Bibliography Tsolozides Collection 2001, 29–30, no. 40; L’ approccio 2002, 33, no. 42; Kambanis 2002b, 139, no. 179.

79. Amulet in the Form of a Bracelet 6th century Iron alloy Diam. 0.062 m., thickness 0.016 m. From Egypt Athens, Benaki Museum, 11472 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

78. Panel with Apotropaic Imagery 7th–8th century Carved stone H. 0.125 m., w. 0.115 m., d. 0.03 m. Thessaloniki, Tsolozides Collection, ΣΤ 156 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Broken in two parts and attached, some loss of stone material in the lower right corner. Stone panel with a carved image of a man, depicted frontally, on horseback, galloping to the right. He wears a short tunic and a military cloak, which stream out behind him to suggest movement. In his right hand, the arm raised at a right angle, he holds a spear of which only a small part survives. The Holy Rider is recognizable in this scene, a common motif above all in ancient funerary reliefs, in which the deceased is rendered a hero and shown as responding to the invocations of the faithful. This iconographic motif continued into the early Christian period. Then the rider was identified with King Solomon, who, thanks to the Archangel Gabriel, had acquired the ability to annihilate demons. Scenes with horsemen, who are frequently depicted killing demons, appear on early Christian amulets with healing and apotropaic properties. This small stone icon with its naive decoration was an object of personal devotion and protected its owner from evil spirits. The subject, which combines pagan and Christian elements, is found mostly in the east on amulets of the 7th and 8th centuries from Egypt and Cilicia, as well as on Coptic textiles of the same period. A. Tzitzibassi

In relatively good condition. Given its tiny diameter, this bracelet must have been intended for a child or for the slim arm of a woman. Made of iron alloy, it is composed of four circular medallions joined together with alternating rhombuses and squares. The medallions depict four roughly carved and very stylized images of the Holy Rider striking a prostrate demon with his sword, a Myrrophore at the Tomb, the Raising of Lazarus, and finally an unidentified symbol. According to one version, the symbol should be identified as an aphlaston, the fan-shaped stern post of ancient ships, which in the Late Antique period became a talisman for safe journeys (Vikan 1991–92, 33–34; Vikan 1991, 90ff.). But a more convincing explanation is that the symbol depicts the Chnoubis, the Greco-Egyptian talismanic device against abdominal and uterine complaints (Bonner 1950, 54ff.; Vikan 1984, 75ff.; Hellenika kosmemata 1999, 341). This is one of more than twenty surviving examples of a type of amulet-cum-bracelet of a magical therapeutic nature connected with mementos from eastern shrines (Vikan 1984, 74ff.; Vikan 1991–92; Kraus 2005–6). The Holy Rider, an especially widespread apotropaic symbol in the early Byzantine period (Walter 1989–90; Dauterman Maguire  –  Maguire  –  Duncan-Flowers 1989, 25–28; Spier 1993, 33ff.), and the Chnoubis, in particular, give this piece of jewelry talismanic and healing properties. Similarly, the depiction of a tomb with features that indicate Christ’s tomb, as we know it from the ampullae from Monza and Bobbio, reveal its relationship with the mementos from the great shrines of the Holy Land. V. Foskolou Bibliography Vikan 1991–92, 33–34, figs. 4a–d; Hellenika kosmemata 1999, 341,


figs. 257–259; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 529, no. 730.

Tsolozides Collection 2001, 46, αρ. 63 [A. Tzitzibassi].


80. Amuletic Armband with Holy Rider, Saints, and Magical Symbols 6th–7th century Bronze Fragment A: h. 0.018 m., w. 0.08 m., d. 0.010 m.; fragment B: h. 0.017 m., w. 0.057 m., d. 0.010 m. From Syria or Palestine Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, 54.2657 Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

This armband is made up of oval medallions linked together by a thin band. Two sections are extant; one is missing and presumably would have included another medallion. The medallions are decorated with Christological and amuletic motifs: an inscription with the first five words of Psalm 90, the Annunciation, the Holy Rider (a simplified version of the image of the entry into Jerusalem), the sign of the cross surrounded by four dots, the aphlaston inscribed with the name of Solomon, and finally an X within a circle set in a hexagon. The aphlaston was the fan-shaped decoration affixed to the stern of ancient ships. In antiquity, the aphlaston was taken as a trophy when a ship was captured and thus became a symbol of victory. In the armband, the Christian imagery is derived from representations of holy sites found on pilgrimage art. Together with the magical motifs, these scenes were understood to provide protection for the wearer. In the same way, in the first medallion, the words taken from Psalm 90: “He that Dwells in the Help of the [Highest]” are to be seen as a form of incantation. The hatched signs on the joining band, identifiable as neutralized Evil Eyes, underscore the protective nature of the armband. The Walters armband belongs to a group of armbands sharing a similar design and motifs and made in Syria or Palestine. The series includes two armbands at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (26131 and 26160); one in a private collection in Jerusalem; two at the British Museum, London (albeit in a fragmentary state, AF289 and 256); and one at the Louvre Museum, Paris (BR4329). M. Bagnoli Bibliography Vikan 1991–92, 33–51; Vikan 1991, 74–92; Vikan 2010, 66–69.


81. Tomb Painting with Christogram Mid-4th century Workshop of Thessaloniki Fresco on plaster H. 1.39 m., l. 1.41 m. Found in a tomb in the eastern early Christian cemetery of Thessaloniki, in a rescue excavation in the precincts of the St. Demetrios Hospital Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, ΒΤ 95 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Loss of paint surface in the lower part and at the edges. This wall painting decorated the interior of a vaulted tomb measuring 2 by 1.40 meters and 1.50 meters in height. The painter has tried very successfully to re-create a tomb chamber with all its wall surfaces covered with precious marbles of various sorts and colors. The colors used are black for the outlines, deep blue, deep red, ochre, off-white, bright yellow, pink, a pinkish brown, and a little bit of brown and white. On the side walls of the tomb ten rectangular panels mimic polychrome sheets of marble set against a uniform background of pink ochre with brown veining, surrounded by off-white narrow bands. Imitation slabs of off-white marble are painted on all the rest of the short eastern wall of the tomb. On the western tympanum, the deceased’s Christian faith is proclaimed with the depiction of an exceptionally fine monogram of Christ within a circle. A Christogram in bright yellow, inscribed in a red circle, is painted in the center of the curved top of this wall. To right and left of the Christogram the apocalyptic letters Α (alpha) and Ω (omega) are depicted, also in yellow. The rest of the tympanum is painted off-white with brown veining, while vertical black lines indicate the joins in the marble panels assembled to revet the whole surface. The vaulted ceiling has also

been painted with colored rectangular panels and a second Christogram. The lavish ornament of the tomb was completed by a plaster pulvinus (proskefalaio), a plaster stylobate, and a mosaic floor made up of thick, marble tesserae. A coin minted in Thessaloniki in 340–50 was found in the plaster of the pulvinus, which dates the construction of the tomb. The painter has attempted to imitate the technique of marble revetment, which was a widespread practice at this time—simple marble revetment and revetment using opus sectile, which is found on the curved tympanum of the western wall and in the “medallion” on the ceiling. The use of the Christogram is encountered less frequently than the cross itself in the wall paintings of tombs in Thessaloniki. In the iconography of the early Christian tombs of Thessaloniki, the Christogram, when it is used, is usually surrounded by a foliate wreath, which in this instance is depicted in stylized fashion as a circle; it appears in the 4th century, evidently following Constantine the Great’s promotion of the symbol for reasons of political expediency.

Moreover, in the transition between the two worlds, the Greco-Roman and the Christian, the tradition of funerary feasts remained strong, and tableware found in funerary complexes is linked with these rituals, whether they were found in or around the graves. Even in the period to which these objects are dated, they continued to symbolize the utensils needed for feasts, which had to be provided for the afterlife in the Elysian Fields. Finally, next to this cist grave a simple marble sarcophagus was discovered, with no relief decoration and no grave goods inside. These two funerary finds indicate the existence of a small group of graves from the late Roman period belonging to Veroia’s western necropolis, where up to now few funerary monuments have been discovered, unlike those in the other cemeteries of the ancient city. V. Allamani-Souri

D. Makropoulou Bibliography Makropoulou 1989–90, 194–98.

82. Veroia: Cist Grave in the Western Necropolis An unlooted cist grave, oriented north-south, was uncovered during a rescue dig in the “Prometheas” district on the plot belonging to a Mr. Radis, situated outside the western walls of Veroia (originally Berroia). Its internal dimensions are 2.10 meters long by 1.15 meters wide, and the skeleton, found in a supine position, survived from the pelvis down. The grave goods, which included four glass vessels, two amphoras, a handleless skyphos or goblet, and a bulbous flask (Antonaras 2009, 190, 365), were all found on a level with the skull, although this was not preserved. It was not easy to determine the sex of the deceased, as the articles concerned are not exclusively men’s or women’s grave goods. It is well known that in the Roman world glass vessels had lost something of the luxury character, indicative of ease and consequently economic prosperity, that they used to have in earlier classical and even in Hellenistic times and had become cheap articles of everyday use. The great increase in production resulted in lowered prices and to their being used on a wider scale, so that many Roman citizens could enjoy the special qualities of glass at their dinner table. Especially the transparency of these vessels allow them to enjoy the different colors of food and drinks. Nevertheless, it is interesting that all the grave goods in this tomb consist exclusively of glass tableware, items that were in any case more expensive than their ceramic equivalents. Perhaps, over and above the social status they imply, these must be the result of contemporary fashion, as well as the personal aesthetic tastes of the deceased’s family.



82a. Amphora with Flat Base 3rd–4th century Glass H. 0.21 m., rim: diam. 0.06 m., base: diam. 0.067 m. Found in a cist grave in the western necropolis of ancient Berroia, on Akropoleos Street, in the Prometheas district Veroia, Archaeological Museum, Π 9597 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Intact, of light greenish, transparent glass made by free blowing in a mold. A cylindrical body with a base that is conical inside, having been compressed by the glassmaker’s barrel. Marked traces of glass on the bottom indicating its use. It has flat shoulders and a short, cylindrical neck with a flattened, ringshaped rim, given a polish by heating to high temperatures (Isings 1957, 157, no. 127; Thessaloniki 1986, 125–28, fig. 125 [E. Trakosopoulou]; Ignatiadou – Antonaras 2008, 23, fig. 2). Two upright, banded handles are attached to the edges of the shoulders, bent sharply back to join the sides of the neck before being doubled back to end on the lower surface of the rim.


Amphoras of this type had particular dimensions corresponding to certain units of measurement. They are found from the 2nd century ad (cf. Davidson-Weinberg – McClellan 1992, no. 86, 118–19, pl. 67; Pantermalis 2001, fig. 13; Antonaras 2009, 224–26, 365) onward and were mainly used to decant wine for the table. V. Allamani-Souri

Bibliography Allamani 1991, 302–3, pl. 114ε; Antonaras 2009, 225, n. 1271; Glass Cosmos 2010, 203, no. 54 [V. Allamani].

82b. Undecorated Skyphos without Handles 3rd–4th century Glass H. 0.08 m., rim: diam. 0.138 m., base: diam. 0.03 m. Found in a cist grave in the western necropolis of ancient Berroia, on Akropoleos Street, in the Prometheas district Veroia, Archaeological Museum, Π9596 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Intact with some milky weathering in places. Eggshell-ware, semicircular skyphos without handles (Isings 1957, nos. 96, 113) with a slightly conical shape (DavidsonWeinberg – McClellan 1992, nos. 52, 63, 100, 105, pl. 59, fig. 63 [p. 107]); Ignatiadou – Antonaras 2008, 87) the result of initial blowing in a mold. Light greenish, transparent glass with marked diagonal grooves in parallel lines made with a mold. Crackedoff rim, everted. Small annular attached base of dark green glass. Found in the same cist grave as the amphora (cat. no. 82a). The skyphos has been dated to the late Roman period by association with the other vessels in the hoard, although it could be earlier. Semicircular skyphoi belong to the category of short drinking vessels and are found from the 1st and 2nd centuries, whereas from the 3rd century on they are almost exclusively short items of tableware for drinking wine. V. Allamani-Souri

Bibliography Allamani 1991, 302–3, pl. 114ε; Antonaras 2009, 119, 159; Glass Cosmos 2010, 202, no. 53 [V. Allamani].

83a. Two-sided “Janiform” Perfume Jar 4th century Syro-Palestinian workshop Transparent glass, greenish in color H. 0.09 m. Found in the masonry cist tomb 13 of the Eastern Cemetery of Thessaloniki, on the site of the Theological School of the Aristotelian University, sector 8 Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 5953 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The front part of the head and the neck of a beardless figure make up both sides of the body and the low foot of the vessel. The type is called “Janiform” because of the way the heads are set back to back, recalling the two-faced Roman god Janus, protector of roads and city gates.


The body of the jar is constructed in two pieces, made by blowing in a bipartite mold, and then joined at the sides. The flat bottom and the neck were made separately from plain blown glass. The blowing of glass in a plaster or clay mold with relief decoration on the inside, which is then stamped on the outer surface of the vessel, is a complex technical process that is designed to produce vessels imitating metalwork models with embossed decoration. Glass vessels of this type were produced from the end of the 1st century bc up to the late 4th century ad in the glass workshops of the Syro-Palestinian region. Glass perfume jars, like other forms of containers, were the grave goods of choice in antiquity. They contained mixtures of plant-based, aromatic essential oils and were used in the Roman period for anointing the body of the deceased before burial. They were superior to similar earthenware examples partly because the material from which they were made was air- and water-tight, and thus the composition and perfume of the contents were preserved intact. As capital of the province of Macedonia, Thessaloniki was a key point on the via Egnatia, and with its port it constituted one of the most important transit centers for trade in the southern Balkan peninsular. The study of inscriptions and stone sarcophaguses from the cemeteries there has shown that from the mid-2nd century on an extremely large number of mercantile families coming from the great cities of Italy and the east settled in the city. The presence of imported glass vessels in Thessaloniki may therefore be connected with this class of entrepreneurs. K. Tzanavari Bibliography Arveiller-Dulong – Nenna 2005, 185–86, 224–29, nos. 655–68; Antonaras 2009, 324–6, type 146, no. 707, pl. xxiii; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 2010.

83b. Two-sided “Janiform” Perfume Jar 3rd–4th century Syro-Palestinian workshop Transparent glass, greenish in color H. 0.09 m., diam. of rim: 0.036 m. Found in a masonry cist tomb in Thessaloniki’s Eastern Cemetery, near the Administration Building on the campus of the Aristotelian University Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, 10878 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

above any practical or symbolic significance attached to their having been deposited in a tomb, the actual material of which they were made has been associated with ideas about death and immortality. K. Tzanavari

Bibliography Petsas 1974, 329; Dörig 1975, 334, no. 332 [B. Mudry]; Stern 1995, type Α4, and 46–47; Arveiller-Dulong – Nenna 2005, 185–86, 224–29, nos. 655–68; Antonaras 2009, 47–49, 324–27, no. 709, type 146, pl. 42,

xxii–xxiv; Glass Cosmos 2010, 273, no. 205 [Α. Antonaras], 239, no. 99 [Α. Antonaras], 262, no. 179 [Κ. Mavromichali], 378, no. 438

Parts of the rim and the body are missing. The body of the vessel is in two parts, made by blowing in a bipartite mold, and then joined at the sides. The front of the head and the neck of a beardless figure, possibly a child, with a triangular chin, chubby cheeks, and curly hair, make up the two sides of the body and the low foot of the jar. The tall, cylindrical neck, which starts from the crown of the head and ends in the broad rim, is nipped in halfway up its length. Vessels made in this technique in transparent or opaque glass are luxury objects, sometimes made using a tripartite mould, and are found throughout the Roman world. Apart from the Janus-faced heads or heads carved in the round, which are thought to depict Eros or Dionysos, or others with negroid features, frequently chosen decorative motifs include fruit, fish, or animals, as well as more complex mythological scenes. As in Syria and Palestine, vessels with similar subjects were made in the 4th and 5th centuries in the western provinces of the Roman Empire, probably in Gaul and Colonia (Cologne). Perfume jars were deposited as grave goods, sometimes in large numbers in a single funerary complex. However, over and

[E. Trakosopoulou-Salakidou], 398, no. 481 [M. Nikolaidou-Patera –  K. Amoiridou].

83c. “  Janiform” Perfume Jar 3rd–4th century Eastern Mediterranean Unpainted greenish glass H. 0.08 m., diam. of rim 0.036 m. Found in the western necropolis of Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, ΒΥ 180 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Intact. So-called Janiform glass perfume jar with infolded, tubular, everted rim, cylindrical neck, and body in the form of two back-to-back heads. The heads depict children with chubby cheeks and curly hair. The jar was made by blowing in a two-part mold, the seams of which are hidden in the locks of the hair. The mold was open at the bottom, with the result that the base of the jar was imprinted with the rough surface on which it was placed while it was still warm and malleable.


Vessels of this type are a development of a type well known from the 1st century which depicted an idealized form of Dionysos /Antinoos or the Medusa, whereas in the 3rd and 4th centuries they mainly depict cherubic children, as in our example, and more rarely unidentified, beardless male figures, often with negroid or grotesque features. It is the only type of fully moldblown vessels that continued to be produced in the Late Antique period, apart from the Syro-Palestinian hexagonal and octagonal glass pilgrim jars, eulogiae of the 6th and 7th centuries. A. Antonaras Bibliography Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 224, no. 258 [E. Marki]; Antonaras 2009, 324–26, no. 701.

84. Lekythos Second half 6th–early 7th century Reddish clay, fine-grained with mica, Munsell 2.5YR 6/8 (light red) H. 0.151 m., w. 0.08 m., mouth: diam. 0.033 m., base: diam. 0.061 m. Found in Tomb 3 in the northern early Christian cemetery on the plot belonging to A. Rendas’ Sons – Construction Company, Totsikas, Matrangos and Mavras in Argos Argos, Byzantine Museum of the Argolid, 466 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Almost intact; slightly damaged on the rim of the foot. Traces of salts on the outside of the vessel and on the inside of the foot. The vessel has a stilted mouth, well-shaped rim, and vertical ovaloid-section handle. Above and below the two extrusions of the handle are two beautifully formed spirals. A biconvex ring with a sharp edge emphasizes the join between the mouth and the neck, which is decorated with rings in high relief. The most prominent ring marks the joining of the neck and the belly. The latter is spherical and decorated with an incised Latin cross with flared terminals on its horizontal arms. Inside the cross is decorated with stamped triangles. On either side of the vertical cross-arm are arranged eight pairs of stamped concentric rings. The lekythos stands on a tall, cylindrical foot with a rim that slopes downward and a rough bottom. This was a grave good that most probably contained aromatic oil for the needs of the deceased in the afterlife, following ancient custom. The shape of the vessels and the spirals at the springing of the handles go back to classical antiquity. The cross, given a prominent place on the body of the lekythos, indicates the new faith. E. Sarri Unpublished Bibliography Kübler 1931, 86, pl. xxxvii-B; Chamilaki 2010, 585, 602, 606, 608, figs. 2, 4 (ΜΣΧ 3307); Tzavella 2010, 659, 668, fig. 3β (Α 8120), 659–60, 667, fig. 2 (Α 8130).


86. Earrings Second half of 6th–7th century Gold H. 0.0485 m., diam. 0.033 m. Found in a tomb in the early Christian basilica on the Tigani, Mani Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 195 a-b Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

85. Small Oinochoe 4th century Local workshop Glass H. 0.109 m., diam. of base 0.072 m., diam. of lip 0.054 m. Found in a tomb at the Isthmia fortress on the Hexamilion Walls, Corinth Kyra Vrysi of Corinthia, Isthmia Museum, ΙΜ 69-42 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The oinochoe is intact apart from a small part of the lip and flaking on part of its surface. It is made of greenish yellow glass. It has a spherical body, shapeless flat base, and conical bottom, with sloping shoulder and cylindrical neck ending in an extruded, annular lip. The handle, banded with a wide groove down the middle, starts from the upper part of the body but curves away from it to follow the line of the neck before returning to attach under the lip. It recalls Syro-Palestinian models but was probably produced locally (cf. Whitehouse 2001, 182, no. 725; Antonaras 2009, 251, no. 93). The vessel was a grave good in an oriented grave, which contained five skeletons with the heads at the western edge, in the Christian manner. The Hexamilion Wall, the early Byzantine fortification (dating to the second decade of the 5th century) that controlled access to the Peloponnese and the Corinthian Isthmus, passes directly above the tomb.

At the bottom of the circular hoop of each earring is attached a banded ring, surrounded by granular decoration. Stylized bunches of grapes are attached midway down each side and at the lowest point of the rim. Inside the ring, strips of sheet gold are formed into spirals which form a cross. The central point of the cross is covered by a knob, outlined with granulation. Earrings of this type in simpler or more complicated form are found throughout the Mediterranean region, mainly from the second half of the 6th to the early 7th century onward, and a similar pair of earrings, dated to the same period, is in the collection of the Hungarian National Museum. The cross, symbol of Christ’s Passion, functions as a means of protection against evil. Combined with foliate, animal, and geometric decoration, it is found as a decorative motif on jewelry after the 5th century, endowing the objects with Christian and amuletic content and at the same time indicating the religious views of the wearer. S. Gerogiorgi Bibliography Ross 1965, 66, no. 85, pl. xlviii; Garam 1980, 172, no. 13, pl. 7.4–5; Ekato Chronia ChAE 1984, 52, no. 47; Helleniko kosmema 1997, 182, no 198, Baldini-Lippolis 1999, 80, 101, no. 9; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 558, no. 77.

D. Athanasoulis Bibliography Clement 1972, 165–66, pl. 133, 135b; Gregory 1993, 78, pl. 20c, fig. 17.


87. Funerary Slab 3rd century White marble with oxidized, yellowish patina in places H. 0.48 m., w. 0.335 m., thickness 0.05 m., h. of lettering 0.015 m. Found at Ligouni, northwest of Paroikia, Paros, in the 19th c. Paroikia, Paros, Paroikia Archaeological Museum

The upper part of the inscribed slab has not survived, so we do not know the whole of the original text. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the content of the inscription identifies it as a funerary monument. From the surviving lines it is clear that Zosime’s parents have died and she has to give each of the men responsible for laying their bodies to rest in the family tomb the sum of eight assaria. The inscription does not indicate whether these were local fossores (gravediggers), decani, or copiatae. It is worth noting that the sum of eight assaria is too cheap to be the whole payment for the funeral expenses. This small sum may have been in the nature of a tip, considered adequate in the context of a community in economic decline, as was the case in the Cyclades at the turn of the 3rd century. Another noteworthy feature of the inscription is the expression: εν τω αιωνι μηδεν εχοντες η επανω τεσσαρες πλακες (having nothing for all eternity other than the four slabs above [us]), which departs radically from the usual phraseology found on pagan funerary steles. There is nothing, at least not nowadays, to point to either a Jewish or a Christian provenance. The inscribed text reflects the wellknown Late Antique phenomenon of cultural osmosis and mutual influence between two competing ideologies (pagan and Christian), which continued to coexist relatively peacefully up to the end of the 3rd century. This fragile balance was to be disturbed soon after Diocletian (284–305) became emperor. The funerary slab from Paros can be dated to the 3rd century not only on the basis of the reference to assaria (this term ceases to be mentioned in the sources in the reign of Diocletian) or even the Christian-influenced phraseology of the text, but also the carving of the letters, which is very archaizing. The Paros inscription is in some ways a boundary marker between the old order of things (i.e., of the Greco-Roman world) and the rapidly expanding new religion, just before their final showdown. G. Kiourtzian

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bibliography

ΩΣ…. ΝΟΥΝΤΑ και πο[θουντ]ες κ[ατα-] κειμεθα ώδε κάτω, εν τω αιώνι μηδεν εχοντες η επανω τεσσαρες πλακες· παρακαλω δε σε, θυγατηρ Ζωσιμη, μετα την εμην κοιμισιν τοις με καταστησουσιν ις τον αιωνιον οικον δωσις εκαστω ασσαρια οκτω (. . . and desiring to lie here, having nothing for all eternity but four slabs above [us]; I beseech you, daughter Zosime, after our death give those who laid us in our eternal home eight assaria each)


IG XII, 5 (Inscriptiones Cycladum), no. 329.

88. Funerary Relief with Inscription 2nd–3rd century Nisyrian workshop Marble, pitted surface Extant h. 0.47 m., w. 0.39 m., thickness 0.135 m. Found in the cemetery near Palaiokastro, Nisyros Nisyros, Archaeological Museum, ΜΝ 58 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Inscribed stele, square in shape, lacking some of its upper part, with relief depiction of three frontal figures in a frame. The figure on the left with the right arm across the chest has been identified as male on account of its size; it is accompanied by a woman and child to the right. Below the figures is carved a worn, three-line inscription: K A Tw K M A E I T O Y NTwTAXPwCOYΛHC T - KOMBOCOYCwTHPIA

also found in other areas of the Greek world, such as in northern Greece and Asia Minor, nevertheless the homogeneity of the Nisyrian material, the standardization of the subjects, and the similarity of the carving, combined with their distinctive, provincial style, bear witness to their being produced locally. The Nisyrian steles have been carved in imitation of Phrygian relief steles of the same period, although the latter are distinguished by the quality of their carving, their decorative nature, and the variety of the symbols they use (Βairami – Katsioti 2006). The first line of the Nisyrian inscription can be interpreted as an abbreviated form of the Phrygian curse IOC NI CEMOYN KNOYMANI ΚΑKΩΝ AΔΔAKET (ΕΤI)TΕΤΙΚΜΕΝΟΣ (ΑΔ) ΕΙΤΟΥ (whoever does harm to the grave, let him be cursed) (Ramsay 1905, 79–120). In Phrygia in this late period there are many gravestones with curses against violators of tombs, which are written in the Phrygian language using the Greek alphabet (Calder 1911, 161–215; Calder 1913, 97–105; Calder 1956; Parrot 1939, 134ff.). Phrygian was spoken as far as Ikonion in the late 3rd century, and it was often written in Greek letters in inscriptions, but there are no known surviving examples on Greek soil. The phrase XPΩ COYΛHC in the second line has been interpreted on the basis of a Christian inscription from Rome, on which the composite phrase EN XPΩ CYNΔOYΛHC appears and where the letters XPΩ are interpreted as XP(ιστ)Ω [in Christ], (IG XIV, no. 531, no. 535 [after ad 408], no. 1812). Thus the Nisyrian inscription can be completed as follows: KA(K)Ω[N AΔΔAKET ΕΤITΕΤΙ]KM[ENOΣ] A[Δ]EITOY—/ [ζω]Nτω(ν) τα(ς) εν Xρ(ιστ)ω σ(υνδ)ουλης/ [και] τ[ου] Kομβόσου σωτηρια (.  .  . while living, for the salvation of his wife [his fellow servant in Christ] and of the grandson). The significance of the inscription lies in the fact that the married couple, who commissioned the tomb in their lifetime, and their grandson were Christians in a period (2nd–3rd century) when Christianity had yet to receive official recognition from the Roman state. The Nisyrian stele belongs to a group of cryptoChristian monuments known mainly from Asia Minor, on which the faith of the tombs’ owners is hinted at through symbols and ambiguous inscriptions. K. Baïrami – A. Katsioti Bibliography Pape – Benseler 1863–70; Ramsay 1905; Holl 1908; Calder 1911;

Kα<κ>ω(ν αδδακετ ετιτετί)κμ(ενος) α(δ)ειτου ζω]ντω(ν) τα(ς εν) Xρ(ιστ)ω σ(υνδ)ουλης [και] τ[ου] Kομβοσου σωτηρια

Calder 1913; Robert 1937; Parrot 1939; Robert – Robert 1948, 89–104; Calder 1956; Zgusta 1964; Robert 1966; Drew-Bear 1972; Gibson 1978; LGPN I 1987; LSJ Rev. Suppl. 1996; Nystrom 1996; Merkelbach 1998; Adam – LGPN IIIB 2000; Veleni 2002; Βaïrami – Katsioti 2006.

The Nisyrian stele is the product of a local workshop of the Late Roman period (2nd–3rd c.), to which about fifty reliefs have been attributed, mostly carved on re-used funerary slabs or architectural members. The steles depict crude frontal figures with one arm held on the chest and sometimes have Christian symbols or inscriptions. The stylized figures are characteristic of the late period to which they belong and, although similar gravestones are


90. Lid of stone reliquary

89. Mensa martyrum 5th century (?) Stone L. 0.71 m., w. 0.56 m., thickness 0.07 m. From Sykourion, Thessaly Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 396

5th–6th century Limestone H. 0.215 m., w. 0.195 m. Athens, Benaki Museum, 40155 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Slab of gray stone, broken into two pieces of roughly equal width and chipped in the lower left-hand corner and on the right-hand side. In the middle of the slab, at the point where the two pieces join, it has five shallow, unevenly spaced indentations carved in it. Above them a two-line inscription has been carved in capital letters: ΜΑΡΤΥΡ(ΩN)…/ ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ ΛΟΥΚΑ ΑΝΔΡΕΟΥ ΛΕΩΝΙΔΟY. . . ([Of the] martyrs John, Luke, Andrew, Leonides …) The name of the fifth martyr, which corresponds to the last indentation, has been lost, owing to damage to the slab where it was carved. Another inscription, on the lower part of the slab and underneath the indentations, refers to the donor. The slab has been identified as a so-called mensa martyrum (table of the martyrs), an uncommon find in Greece, although large numbers have been found in North Africa. These slabs, which come in various shapes, have inscriptions including the words mensa matryrum and indentations like those on the Byzantine Museum’s slab, into which the faithful placed offer­ ings in memory of the martyrs honored there. The inscriptions also often mention the names of the martyrs to whom these “tables” were dedicated. The Byzantine Museum’s mensa martyrum, dedicated to five martyrs, was probably located in some shrine venerated in their memory, a martyrion built by a Christian, a woman called Soteris, as it says in the dedicatory inscription. E. Chalkia Bibliography Sotiriou 1932, 7–8; Duval 1982; Chalkia 1987–88.


The artifact takes the form of a double-gabled lid. The outside is covered with inscriptions referring to the saints’ relics contained in the reliquary. They read as follows: +ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΟΝ ΤΟΥ +ΑΓΙΟΥ ΙΩΑΝΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΗC +CΥΝΟΔΙΑC / +ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΟΝ ΤΩΝ +ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΗC +CΥΝΟΔΙΑC / +ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΟΝ ΤΟΥ ΑΓΙΟΥ ΧΡΙCΤΟΦΟΡΟΥ +ΚΑΙ ΤΗC CΥΝΟΔΙΑC / +ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΟΝ ΤΟΥ +CΤΕΦΑΝΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΤΗC CΥΝΟΔΙΑC ΑΥΤΟΥ (+shrine of +Saint John and his +synodeia +shrine of the +holy apostles and their +synodeia + shrine of Saint Christopher +and his synodeia +shrine of +Stephen and his synodeia). On the upright sides of the lid, on the short ends, under blind arcading are some finely carved crosses. On the lower part of the lid is carved a large cross with flared, triangular terminals, of which the bottom one forms a large triangular base. This cross is flanked by the abbreviated inscription: Ι(ΗCO)Y X(PICT)E (Jesus Christ). The lid comes from a reliquary that took the form of a sarcophagus. This sort of sarcophagus, used in the consecration of churches when it was placed under the altar, was very widespread in the early Christian period. In some examples there was a second, inner receptacle, often of some precious material such as silver, which contained the relics. The two-gabled arrangement on the Benaki Museum lid is relatively unusual and seems to go hand in hand with the tendency to inscribe detailed references to the saints whose relics were contained in the reliquary. The formula of these incriptions, referring to the saints’ synodeia (company) recalls similar expressions found in martyrologia and lives of saints, where the term may refer either to Christians who martyred with the saints or to a company of

followers and believers. Similar inscriptions to the ones we read on this lid have also been preserved in other examples. In other cases, dedicatory inscriptions are substituted for the references to the saints, as on a reliquary in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2002.483.3a,b), which was an offering from a certain Bishop Ioannis. A. Drandaki Unpublished Bibliography (for parallels) Aydın 2011.

The hollow cylinder within this curious architectural model suggests that it functioned as a reliquary. The lid that originally sealed the interior was surely in the form of a roof: a drum topped by a dome, or perhaps a more pyramidal form, as on some Roman tombs. At each corner of the low platform stands a column on a square base. There are no capitals, only simple moldings at the top and bottom. In the center stands the hollow, cylindrical “cella,” with an engaged column on three of its sides; on the fourth side is a closed door, carved in shallow relief. Between each pair of corner columns springs a low arch, decorated differently on each side. Round bosses line the arch in front, above the door, and there is a row of dentils on the cornice. Above each column are two engaged colonnettes. On the right side there are dentils on both arch and cornice and engaged colonnettes above the columns. Simple crosses are incised in the spandrels. On the left side, a recessed fan motif fills the arched span. There is a floral rinceau in the attic and rectilinear moldings on the cornice and above the corner columns. On the back, the span of the arch is filled with a motif more like a shell than a fan. There are dentils on the cornice, and the spandrels are filled with lily-like florals framed by bands of circular moldings. Other such colonnaded limestone reliquaries are known, but few from known contexts; the closest parallel may be a less elaborate example in the Toledo Museum of Art (2006.91). Material and style suggest an origin in Syria or Jordan, but their range is not well defined. The Princeton reliquary may represent, in abbreviated form, the actual shrine of a particular saint or, as has been suggested, the Holy Sepulcher itself. Katherine Marsengill has noted a resemblance to shrines on some Late Antique funerary stelae. The basic form may descend from Roman and Parthian colonnaded altars, examples of which, from Hatra, are in the Baghdad Museum. As such, it is another example, in this period of transition, of the adaption of a classical type to a Christian purpose. J. M. Padgett Bibliography Marsengill 2010, 248–49, no. 38.

91. Reliquary in the Form of a Shrine 6th–7th century Syria or Jordan Limestone H. 0.207 m., max. w. 0.169 m., interior diam. 0.07 m. Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, 2003-88; Classical Purchase Fund Photo © Trustees of Princeton University

One corner broken away, otherwise complete. Worn surfaces, chipped edges; dark brown patina.


92. Eulogia Flask of St. Menas 6th century Clay H. 0.12 m., w. 0.11 m., diam. 0.10 m. From Egypt Athens, Benaki Museum, 12544 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

Poor state of preservation. The handles and neck are missing, and the relief scenes on both sides have been eroded. Clay flask with an image of St. Menas flanked by camels on one side and St. Thekla flanked by wild beasts on the other. It is a eulogia, an object that believers received as a souvenir of their visit to some holy place (locus sanctus), in this case the shrine of St. Menas (Abu Mena) near Alexandria in Egypt (Metzger 1981; Witt 2000). These flasks were the most widespread of the early pilgrimage mementos, given that in modern times they have been found in great numbers from Egypt to the British Islands and were mass produced in workshops located at the shrine itself (Grossmann 1998; Bangert 2007).

On one side they had the orant figure of the saint between two camels and on the other usually the inscription: του αγiου Μηνa ευλογiα (the eulogia [blessing] of St. Menas). Occa­ sionally they depict other decorative motifs such laurel branches, foliate bands, crosses, or even a ship, probably as an amulet for sea voyages (Vikan 1991), while on a significant number of flasks (16) a popular and especially venerated Late Antique saint, Thekla, appears flanked by wild beasts, an icono­graphical motif that refers to her martyrdom (Davis 2001). The main shrine for the cult of St. Thekla and an important pilgrimage center in the early Byzantine period was the church dedicated to her in Seleukeia in Asia Minor. But the sources allow us to suppose that there was another shrine dedicated to the saint located close to the shrine at Abu Mena. It has been thought that the combination of the two saints on a flask, which pilgrims received at the shrine of St. Menas, could be the result (Davis 1998; Davis 2001) of some sort of “rivalry” between the two holy places, i.e., that it may conceal an attempt on the part of the Abu Mina establishment to lure away the faithful from the shrine of St. Thekla. V. Foskolou Bibliography Metzger 1981; Vikan 1991; Davis 1998, 303–40; Grossmann 1998, 281–302; Witt 2000; Davis 2001; Bangert 2007, 27–33.


finale, she was placed in a pool full of wild seals, but the creatures were killed by a cloud of fire. While immersed, Thekla announced that she had baptized herself, a ritual Paul had declined to perform. She rejoined Paul at Myra, now disguised as a man, and was commissioned by him to preach the gospel, which she did in Ikonion and elsewhere. Retiring as a hermit to a cave near Seleukeia, where a church dedicated to her was later built, Thekla lived to advanced age and never suffered martyrdom. Tertullian criticized the Acts of Paul and Thekla as endorsing baptism and preaching by women, but Thekla was soon revered as a saint throughout the Christian world. In the orthodox tradition she is venerated as a protomartyr and “equal of the apostles.” She was a role model for female ascetics, and for wives who adopted a life of chastity, one of whom may have worn this pendant. J. M. Padgett Bibliography Nauerth 1982, 16, pl. vi, fig. 3; C´urcˇic´ – St. Clair 1986, 91–92, no. 89; Kalavrezou 2003, 300, no. 183.

93. Pendant with St. Thekla 5th–6th century Eastern Mediterranean, possibly Constantinople Gold H. 0.026 m., w. 0.017 m. Princeton, Princeton University Art Museum, y1968-136, Museum purchase, Caroline G. Mather Fund Photo © Trustees of Princeton University

Intact and in excellent condition. This oval pendant is of solid gold and has a loop for suspension. The back is plain. On the front is engraved a woman standing with her weight on her left leg and her arms lifted in prayer. She is veiled and draped, and turns her nimbed head up to the right, where the hand of God appears from the sky to offer her a wreath of victory. On either side of the woman is a pair of lions, male and female, whose presence and submission— the male seems to lick her feet—identify her as St. Thekla. A native of Ikonion, in Anatolia, Thekla was one of the most revered saints of the early Christian period, especially in the east. According to the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thekla, written in the 2nd century, she became devoted to St. Paul when he visited Ikonion. Renouncing her fiancé for a life of chastity, she was denounced by her own family and sentenced to be burned, but she was saved by a miraculous storm. She followed Paul to Pisidian Antioch, where a spurned suitor again had her condemned, but the lioness to which she was tied only licked her feet, then fought off the other beasts in the arena. In a bizarre

94. Eulogia Flask of St. Menas 5th–6th century Clay H. 0.085 m., w. 0.06 m. Thessaloniki, Tsolozides Collection, ΣΤ 18 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism


Intact clay flask from the shrine of St. Menas near Alexandria in Egypt. A two-part mold was used to make it. The flask has a round, flattened body with a tall, narrow neck and two separate, semicircular handles. Both sides are decorated with the image of St. Menas in a medallion that is formed by relief dots. The saint is depicted full length and frontally, wearing military dress, his arms outstretched in the orans position. He is flanked by two crosses on a level with his head and two kneeling camels, depicted somewhat abstractly, under his outstretched arms. The camels are the feature that determines the identity of the orans figure, because, according to the saint’s life, two camels carried his relics to the place where his shrine was subsequently established. The saint’s cult was at its peak in the 5th and 6th centuries, when there was a flourishing production of clay eulogiai, which the monastery distributed to pilgrims, not just as mementos of the shrine but above all as amulets for healing purposes, containing holy water or oil from the lamp that burned outside the crypt. P. Kambanis Bibliography Tsolozides Collection 2001, 33–34, no. 47; L’approccio 2002, 37–38, no. 49; Kambanis 2004, 143.

95. Stamped Glass Amulet 5th–6th century Syro-Palestinian coast Semi-transparent blue glass H. 0.02 m., diam. 0.015 m. Thessaloniki, Tsolozides Collection, ΣT 165 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Preserved intact. Glass discoid amulet. At the top the glass has been stretched and folded over, creating an integral suspension hook. A depiction of a stylite saint, probably St. Symeon, was stamped on the obverse while the glass was still hot and malleable. In the center, atop a column, a bust-length figure of a monk wearing a cowl can be made out. The central figure is flanked by two small, indistinct figures, probably adoring angels. The back of the disc is flat. Discoid glass encolpia are widely known, especially in the area of the eastern Mediterranean. Most of them are made from amber-colored glass and apparently, only in exceptional cases, of blue glass. The iconographic repertoire of their stamped decoration covers both pagan and Jewish subjects, whereas Christian ones are rare. Only a few examples with St. Symeon Stylites have survived, and it seems likely that they were eulogiai (blessings) for the pilgrims who visited the shrine where he had lived the ascetic life. A. Antonaras Bibliography Tsolozides Collection 2001, 29, no. 39 [A. Antonaras] cf. Barag 2001, nos. 376–377; Arveiller-Dulong – Nenna 2005, 53–62, nos. 90– 91, 94.


96. Part of a Mosaic Floor First half 4th century Marble, glass paste with gold leaf, stone, plaster H. 1.15 m., w. 0.90 m., thickness 0.03 m., h. of letters 0.09 m. Found in the Octagon at Philippi Philippi, Archaeological Museum, Δ15.265 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Part of a mosaic floor, detached from its original location for protection. Some slight damage to the mosaic surface, accounting for the loss of some letters. The mosaic pavement belongs to a shrine, which predates the Octagon, whose identity is made clear in the following inscription: Πορ[φυ]ριος επiσκο/πος τη[ν] κeντησιν της βασιλικh/ς Παυλο[υ] [επ]oiησεν εν Χ(ριστ)ω (Bishop Por[phy]rios made the mosaic in the Basilica of Paul in Christ’s name). The mention of Bishop Porphyrios, who signed the acts of the Council of Serdica (342/343), indicates that the floor can be dated to the early 4th century. That and the reference to the type of building (a rectangular-plan, three-aisled structure with an inscribed apse at the east end, to which the mosaic

belonged) place it in the period when Christians did not yet have the courage or the power to publicly demonstrate their faith by means of monumental architecture, such as the great Octagon, which succeeded the earlier church. The fragment of mosaic would have formed part of the area bordering the short, east end. It takes the form of a tabula ansata and is framed by a line of red tesserae. The ground is white. The inscription is arranged in three lines, which are emphasized with a line of red tesserae. Gold tesserae were used for the words Πορφu’ριος (Porphyrios), επi’σκοπος (bishop), Παu’λου (Paul), and the abbreviation ΧΡΩ (Christ); red tesserae were used for the word εν (in) and blue for the rest. S. Dadaki Bibliography Pelekanides 1975, 101; Pelekanides 1976–77, 71–74; Pelekanides 1978, 67–72; Pelekanides 1980, 101–25; Koukouli – Bakirtzis 1995, 49–52; Gounaris 2004; Mentzos 2005, 101–49.


97. Fragment of Plaque Inscribed with an Edict of Justinian I (527–65) 7th century (?) Marble H. 0.54 m., w. 0.45 m., thickness 0.03 m., h. of letters 0.038 m. From the floor of the Basilica of Hagios Demetrios, Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Hagios Demetrios, crypt, ΑΔ 08/2 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

This fragment from an inscribed marble plaque has been preserved in good condition, with some damage to the lateral sides and slight damage to the lettering. The inscribed slab was found re-used as flooring material in the marble pavement of the small, northern aisle of the church and preserves part of the original text. The extant text is set out in eleven straight lines, very finely carved, and is only part of the original. The extant text has been read as follows: [Ιου]στινιανo’ς, Αλαμανικo’ς, Γοτ[θικo’ς ... ...]νικητ(h’ς), τροπαιοu’χ(ος), αεισe’βασ[τος ... ...]ς Δημητρi’ου του κατa’[... ...]βασμi’ω οi’κω κατa’ τη[... 5 ...]προσευξo’μενοι τη θ [... ...]πρa’κτων των δ[... ...]J πρa’γμα ελαττω [... ...]εi’ναι αυταςτ[... ...]ακωχης κα[ 10 ...]ιναιτου; [Jus]tinian, Alamanicus, Gothicus ... ... victor, triumphant


conqueror, always to be revered... ..., Demetrios of [... .. .] (venerable) house on the [... 5 ...] who had prayed (to) [10...].... The first extant line is from the first line of the inscription. The first word gives the name Justinian, accompanied by the emperor’s nomina sacra, the epithets he had acquired from his military successes, such as Alamanicus and Gothicus, details that help identify the emperor as Justinian I. Other glorifying imperial titles follow, such as “victor,” “triumphant conqueror” (triumphator), and “always to be revered,” which indicate that the text was composed after the emperor’s successive military triumphs in the west. From the fragments of the text that follow we can assume the emperor had made some thank offering to the “venerable house of St. Demetrios,” which may refer to a tax-collecting concession and not a visit by Justinian himself to Thessaloniki and the church, as there is no historical evidence for the latter. Although it is difficult to tell how much has been lost of the original inscription-bearing support, earlier attempts to complete the first line do not, in my opinion, quite add up. On the other hand, the style of the inscription’s lettering is not consistent with a 6th-century date. It may be that the inscription was based on a text of the mid-6th century, which was transferred to the marble support at a later date, probably after the rebuilding of the basilica in the 7th century, when the Church wanted to immortalize its connection with this particular emperor and his efforts on behalf of the shrine of St. Demetrios. M. Païsidou Bibliography Oikonomos 1918; Sotiriou – Sotiriou 1952, 252; Spieser 1973, 153–54; Tsigaridas – Tsigarida 1979, 92–93.

98. Composite Capital with Depiction of the Four Rivers of Paradise 6th century White marble Overall h. 0.29 m. (0.09 + 0.20 m.), abacus: l. 0.61 m., w. (at base) 0.855 m.; capital: l. 0.43 m., w. (at base) 0.40 m. Found in the early Christian basilica at the “Mnemata” or “Anathema” or “Palaiokklesies” site, Thaumakos of Phthiotis Hypati, Byzantine Museum of Phthiotis, ΦΘ Λ 19 (ΦΛ 265) Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Ionic capital with integral abacus. Inscribed: ΤΙΓΡΙC / ΓΙΩΝ // ΦΙCΩΝ (Tigris  /  Gion  //  Phison). The piece is in satisfactory condition. Some abrasions can be seen on one volute, including a small part of the pulvinus, as well as at one end of the narrow side with the cross. The main face of the capital is decorated on the echinus with three eggs. The secondary face has an incised linear cross between tripartite decorative motifs (fleurons) on the echinus. In the middle of the lower part, traces of the lead clamp remain in the aperture. The main face of the abacus has a carved depiction of a cross with flared terminals, flanked by the four gushing rivers of Paradise, three of which are denoted by name; between them are two water birds, which look like swans. The bird on the left, its long neck bent and its head down, is drinking water, while the one on the right has its head turned back and is looking up, allowing the water to flow into its long neck. The secondary face is decorated with a central cross with flared terminals.

The image depicted on the capital from Thaumakos is a symbolic scene of heavenly bliss and purification, with the two waterfowl quenching their thirst in the flowing waters of the rivers. It is an eschatological subject, referring to the salvation of mankind, the blessings of eternal life, and the immortality of the soul. Men’s souls, depicted in the form of the two waterfowl, have recourse to the waters of the four rivers of Paradise that irrigate Creation, to requite their thirst and be purged. The element of water with life-giving power, represented by the four rivers of Paradise from the Old Testament (Genesis 2: 10–14): Gihon or Gehon, Pison or Phison, Tygris [Hiddekel], and Euphrates, is the paradisiac symbol par excellence in the early Christian period. Depictions of the rivers are found on wall mosaics in early Christian monuments (e.g., Hosios David, Latomou Monastery, Thessaloniki, and basilicas in Rome), where they accompany depictions of apocalyptic visions and epiphanies. In sculpture this subject is rarely depicted, which makes this capital from Thaumakos important from the point of view of symbolic iconography. G. Kakavas Unpublished Bibliography (for provenance) Lazaridis 1973, 323–25, pl. 280γ, dr. 1; Dina 1981, 269–70; Dina 1991, 231–32; Sythiakaki-Kritsimalli 2002, 60.


99. Part of a Curved Arch from an Ambo

100. Corner Section of Curved Panel from an Ambo

Late 5th–early 6th century Local workshop Grayish-white marble with fine-grained crystals H. 0.22–0.31 m., w. 0.28–0.43 m., diam. 0.10 m. From the Basilica of Hagios Demetrios in Phthiotic Thebes, Nea Anchialos Nea Anchialos, Archaeological Collection of Phthiotic Thebes, Λ 6039

Late 5th–early 6th century Local workshop Grayish-white marble with fine-grained crystals H. 0.16–0.345 m., w. 0.64 m., diam. 0.10 m. From the Basilica of Hagios Demetrios, Phthiotic Thebes, Nea Anchialos Nea Anchialos, Archaeological Collection of Phthiotic Thebes, Λ 6040

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Part of a curved arch from an ambo with pieces missing on the left, at the lower right, and in the upper right corner. Assembled in three sections. The extrados and soffit are decorated. At the summit of the extrados is depicted a Latin cross with flared terminals standing on a bead-and-reel and an egg-and-dart ornament. To the right and left of the cross is an acanthus with a twisted spear. The soffit of the arch is decorated with an ovolo molding between a double row of bead and reel and then spiral ornament. Α. Dina Bibliography Giannopoulos 1912, 136–42, pl. Α’; Sotiriou 1929b, 87–96, fig. 121; Orlandos 1952, ΙΙ. 549–54.

Corner section of a curved panel from an ambo with losses in the upper and right-hand parts, assembled in three pieces. Decorated on the front and back. The front is framed by two narrow, undecorated bands, which enclose repeated acan­ thus leaves set at an angle, followed by bead-and-reel decoration and a row of half-acanthus, in which the corner leaf is unfurling. From the main part of the decoration traces of pierced vegetal decoration survive. On the reverse there is a triple-banded frame, which follows the curve of the slab. In both cat. nos. 99 and 100, the use of the drill (a Theo­ dosian technique) indicates the working of the marble with tools and methods proper to sculpture. In this way, the craftsman attempted to exploit the contrast between the whiteness of the marble and the dark holes opened up by the drill. Thus, the strong light reinforces the sudden alternations between black and white and gives the impression of another dimension. Α. Dina Bibliography Giannopoulos 1912, 136–42, pl. Α’; Sotiriou 1929b, 87–96, fig. 119; Orlandos 1952, ΙΙ. 549–54.


101. Double-sided Panel 6th century White marble with dark spots H. 0.725 m., w. 0.638 m., thickness 0.07 m. Found in the Leonides Basilica, Lechaion, Corinth Ancient Corinth, Old Museum, 747

The decorative motifs of the cross inscribed in the disc and the repeated rhombuses inscribed in rectangles or squares are common in the early Christian period in mainland Greece (e.g., Amphipolis), in Constantinople and in Asia Minor (e.g., Nicaea). In particular, the motif of repeated rhombuses is thought to reflect models from woodcarving. E. Manolessou

Photo Š Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism Bibliography

In good condition. Some small abrasions. Cut down on three sides. On the front of the panel, three concentric rhombuses are inscribed in a square frame, around which at intervals are wound ribbons, which are preserved only on one side. The rhombuses are separated from one another by deep, semicircular section grooves. The sides of the rhombuses are made up of slightly curved bands which project from between flat moldings. The small central rhombus is filled by a rosette. Between the corners of the square and the sides of the largest rhombus are space fillers in the form of triangles filled with small, raised discs. The sides of the triangles are made up of curved bands and moldings. On the other side, a Latin cross with flared arms decorates a disc that projects slightly from the ground and is inscribed in a banded, square frame. A double band, preserved on only one side, surrounded the square. The face with the cross is in low relief, whereas the face with the rhombuses has decoration in high relief, which, combined with the grooves, creates strong shadows.

Orlandos 1958, fig. 117; Pallas 1958, 126, pl. 102Îą; Pallas 2007, 185, fig. 120.


103. Reliquary Deposited at Consecration of Church

7th–8th century Copper alloy Total l. 0.76 m., tabula ansata: h. 0.10 m., w. 0.33 m., thickness 0.04–0.05 m.; chain: l. 0.58 m. Found in the atrium of the Episcopal Basilica at Dion (Basilica B) Dion, Archaeological Museum, ΜΔ 2111/295

Early Byzantine period White, fine-grained marble Casket: h. 0.082 m., l. 0.16 m., w. 0.115 m.; lid: h. 0.06 m., l. 0.16 m., w. 0.115 m. From Palaiokastra, Anchialos, Eastern Thrace (Byzantine Acheloo, now Pomorie, Bulgaria). Donated to the Christian Archaeological Society by Vasileios Georgiades, Metropolitan of Anchialos (1889–1909) and later Ecumenical Patriarch (1925–29) Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 4160

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

102. Pierced Tabula Ansata from a Polykandelon with Suspension Chain

Generally good condition. The tabula ansata, or plaque, is divided length­wise by two bands of equal height inscribed ΥΠΕΡΜΝΗΜ/ ΗΣ ΘΕΚΛΑΣ (In memory of Thekla). The name Thekla is preceded by an ivy leaf placed toward the bottom of the plaque. In the pierced-work ends of the tabula are Latin crosses with flared terminals. In the middle of the upper and lower parts, suspension rings are attached to the main body of the plaque. A double hook is joined to the upper one. A chain made of closed S-shaped links and ending in a larger hook hangs from the lower one. A Latin cross (h. 0.11 m.) interrupts the chain a third of the way down; the cross-arms end in back-to-back hooks. The disk of a polykandelon (multiple hanging lamp) prob­ ably once hung from the last hook on the chain. Judging by the find spot (the eastern end of the south stoa of the atrium, which formed an enclosed chamber), it seems likely that the plaque had been put into storage, whereas the disk of the polykandelon was probably re-used in the church. The closest analogy is found in a pierced disk with a cruciform monogram surrounded by fleurde-lis (trefoil finials) (found in Syria and dated to 550–650; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, 421–22, no. 171) and two other pierced disks with cruciform monograms in Paderborn (dated to ca. 800; Stiegemann 2001, 218–19, no. Ι.13).

In excellent condition. An incrustation of some inorganic reddish substance covers the greater part of the outer surface of the lid. The reliquary consists of a simple box-shaped body and a sliding, gabled lid with acroteria at the corners. The decoration is confined to a flat cross in relief with flared terminals on the lid. The workmanship is crude (tool marks can be seen on the surfaces). Inside is a lead casket (h. 0.08 m., l. 0.05 m., d. 0.05 m.), with a cruciform decorative motif incised on the top of its lid. The relationship of the lead casket to the marble reliquary is problematic. The lavish use of metal points to the so-called Dark Ages. It is probable that they both date to the same period. The sarcophagus-style reliquary from Anchialos belongs to a type that is indigenous to the Balkans and Asia Minor and dates to the 5th and 6th centuries. There are close similarities with a group of examples centered on Constantinople (cf. Eyice 1969, 127–45). Reliquaries of this type usually contained smaller reliquaries and were placed in spaces hollowed out under the altars of churches during their consecration. The depositing of relics in churches was made obligatory only in 787 at the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Rhalles – Potles 1892, 58), which regularized a confused tradition, at the same time as it reinforced the cult of relics in the midst of the Iconoclast Controversy. Y. Theocharis

A. Mentzos Bibliography


Pelekanides 1966, 372, pl. 396α; Feissel 1983, 79–80, no. 79;

Lampakis 1905, 24; Buschhausen 1971, 295, no. C34, pl. 18; Sklavou-

Mentzos 1990, 47.

Mavroeidi 1999, 80, no. 108.


104. Reliquary from the Consecration of the Early Christian Basilica in the Asklepieion 6th century H. 0.037 m., l. 0.065 m., w. 0.04 m. Found in the Asklepieion, on the south slope of the Akropolis of Athens Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 3737 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The reliquary has been preserved intact and in good condition, apart from the oxidation on the surface and a broken hinge on the back. It is oval in shape and consists of a receptacle and lid, which opens and closes and is fixed at the front with a latch. Pieces of bones, which were the relics of saints but are now reduced to dust, were stored inside. The reliquary is very simply decorated with a cross with flared ends, carved across the full width of the lid. The cross is surrounded by interlace rendered in repoussé technique. The same interlace runs around the edge of the receptacle. The simple shape and decoration of the reliquary from the Asklepieion can be compared with examples datable to the 5th and 6th centuries, such as a reliquary from Esbus in Jordan (Comte 2008, 97, no. 47, fig. 113), the reliquaries from Ras el Bassit in Syria (Comte 2008, nos. 184, 185, fig. 292), and one in the Sofia Museum (Buschhausen 1971, 283, C12). The latch of its fastening is similar to that on a reliquary from Chersonesos (Buschhausen 1971, 252–54, B 59–60,), dated to the mid-6th century. The reliquary from the Asklepieion should be dated to the same period, and consequently the three-aisled basilica, which replaced the old sanctuary, must be of this date. It is worth noting that the rectangular trench of the reliquary used for the consecration was not found in the basilica of the early Christian period in the Asklepieion but under the Holy Doors leading to the altar of a later, single-aisled church, probably dated to the 11th century built on the ruins of the basilica. It is clear that the cult of earlier saints, who succeeded the ancient god Asklepios, was transferred in order to sanctify the later middle Byzantine church as well.

105. Altar 5th–6th century White Pentelic marble Sides: 0.75 m., thickness 0.05 m., disc: diam. 0.65 m. Eleusis, Eleusis Archaeological Museum 4778 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Whole (from two reunited pieces). Square, marble altar with a shallow, concave disc in the center, the circumference of which is marked with incisions. At the corners of the altar are carved four Greek (i.e., equal-armed) crosses, outlined with a double line. The main face of the altar is well polished, whereas the back and the lateral sides by contrast have only been roughly worked. This kind of altar is only found in Attica and is probably the creation of local workshops. The altar seems likely to have belonged to one of the early Christian basilicas in Eleusis, which were built either within the bounds of the shrine of Demeter or nearby, once Christianity had succeeded the ancient religion. The altar’s square shape supports the hypothesis that it was used as the main altar in the apse of the sanctuary, on which the bread and the wine were changed into the body and blood of Christ and which symbolized successively Christ’s tomb and the throne of God. However, for lack of archaeological data, it is not possible to exclude its use for secondary liturgical purposes, for example, in the prothesis (the sacristy on the north side of the bema, where the Eucharist was prepared) or for receiving offerings brought by the faithful to the church. K. Papangeli Bibliography Chalkia 1991, 56, 219, fig. 45.

V. Papaefthymiou Bibliography Travlos 1939–41, 34–68.


106. Paten with the Communion of the Apostles 565–78 Silver with gilding and niello inlay H. 0.025 m., diam. 0.35 m. Said to be from Riha, Syria Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection, BZ.1924.5 Photo © Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.

This paten is dented in many places and has a significant tear running along the crease between the bottom and side where the arch is represented. The rim has several splits where letters were excavated. The paten and the chalice were the sacred utensils for celebrating the Eucharist (communion) in the Byzantine rite. Used for the bread and wine that had been sanctified and transformed into the body and blood of Christ—as had happened at the Last Supper, recorded in the Gospel of Mark 14: 22–25— these vasa sacra played an essential role in this mystery, or sacrament, of Christianity. Recorded in the Bible but represented as though an idealized 6th-century ritual, this communion scene depicts Christ with the cross-halo as priest and deacon, simultaneously distributing bread to the apostles to the right and wine to those on the left. The setting of columns supporting an architrave, a shell motif—


implying a niche or an apse—and lamps with flames suggests the interior of a church. Christ stands behind the draped altar with a chalice, paten, and wine skins on it. In front are a ewer from which water was poured to wash hands and a bowl with a handle that caught the used water. Like many ecclesiastical silver objects found in northern Syria from the 6th to 7th century, the donors included a long inscription inset with niello: + UPER ANAPAUCEωC CERGIAC I ωANNOU K(ai) QEODOCIOU K(ai) CωTHRIAC MEGALOU K(ai) NONNOU K(ai) TωN AUTωN TEKNωN (For the repose [of the soul] of Sergia, [daughter] of John, and of Theodosios, and [for] the salvation of Megas and of Nonnos and of their children). The placement of their names insured that whenever the paten was used, those to be remembered would be associated with the Eucharist and their prayerful hopes would be invoked. On the back of the paten, a series of five stamps are impressed, a system that began in the late 5th century and lasted until the middle of the 7th. The official stamps, which bear the name of the emperor and state officials connected with the fisc, are thought to confirm either the purity of the silver or its controlled distribution from the imperial treasury. Important for the historian and art historian, the stamps help to date the silver objects; this paten was fabricated in the reign of Justin II (565–78), and perhaps precisely in 577.

The Riha paten is one of only two early Byzantine patens on which the Communion of the Apostles is represented, the original ritual on which subsequent liturgical repetitions are based. (The other is the Stuma Paten in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul.) Reputedly found at Riha in northern Syria early in the 20th century, it is related to a group of approximately fifty ecclesiastical silver objects discovered at that time in the same region. It has been suggested (see Mango 1986) that the Hama, Antioch, Stuma, and Riha treasures were, in fact, one cache from Kaper Koraon that was divided into smaller groups in order to increase their appeal as discrete treasures. The Riha treasure, comprising this paten, a chalice, and a liturgical fan (rhipidion), is in Dumbarton Oaks. S. Zwirn


Dodd 1961, no. 20; Ross 1962, no. 10; Age of Spirituality 1979, no. 547 [J. L. Schrader]; Mango 1986, no. 35; Nelson – Collins 2006, no. 37 [G. Bühl].

107, 108. C  halice and Paten 6th–early 7th century From the eastern Mediterranean Silver Chalice: h. 0.138 m., diam. of rim: 0.131 m., diam. of base: 0.085 m.; paten: h. 0.028 m., diam. of rim: 0.19 m., diam. of base: 0.142 m. Athens, Benaki Museum, 31523, 31524 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

The chalice is made in two parts, the hemispherical cup and the flaring foot, which are soldered together. Both parts are of hammered silver sheets that were subsequently placed on the lathe to smooth the outside. The cup is plain with a flat, slightly everted rim, below which is engraved on one side a cruciform monogram, which possibly reads ΜΑΡΙΑC (of Maria). The sole decoration on the vessel is an elegant foliate knob and incised lines on the foot, executed while it was being turned on the lathe. The paten is also made of hammered silver sheet subsequently worked on the lathe. The bottom is flat and the slightly flaring walls terminate in a wide, flat rim engraved with the same monogram as on the chalice and the votive inscription ΥΠΕΡ ΕΥΧΗC ON OIΔΕΝ Ο Θ(ΕΟ)C TA ONOMATA + (Prayer for those whose names God knows +). Both the technical traits and the repetition of the monogram on the vessels confirm that they were made as a set and commissioned by the same donor. Although they are not stamped with the usual control stamps of the period, which would give a secure date for their production, the close similarities they display with contemporary “hallmarked” silver objects helps in this direction. The type of lettering in the inscription on the paten is characteristic of many silver objects of the 6th century. The austere shape of the chalice is encountered in several analogous vessels in the Kaper Koraon treasure from Syria, whereas the foliate knob on the foot is repeated on three chalices from the Beth Misona treasure, also Syrian, of the late 6th century. Equally typical is the shape of the paten, although most extant examples are of larger dimensions and as a rule have some ornament at the bottom. A paten identical to the one in the Benaki Museum is in the 6th-century Gallunianu treasure discovered in Italy, differing only in the Latin inscription on the latter. A. Drandaki Bibliography Delivorrias – Fotopoulos 1997, 182–83, nos. 310–312; Georgoula 2007, nos. 75, 76 [A. Drandaki]. For parallels, see Mango 1986, 74–77, no. 3, 228–30, nos. 57–59, 253, no. 81; Stiegemann 2001, 140–41, no. I.43 [V. H. Elbern]. For the inscriptions, see Ševcˇenko 1992, 39–56.


of the figures are rendered in modified contrapposto, with the weight of each of the figures resting on one leg with the other leg placed at a diagonal. The Virgin’s pose is less dynamic but nonetheless has been given a gentle sway. Their tunics have finely articulated folds. A band decorated with a scalloped design circles the base of the censer. The censer was given to a church by a donor, a certain Leontios, who apparently had it inscribed after its manufacture; the somewhat crude letters of the inscription fit awkwardly in the spaces above the arches. The inscription is a prayer to God via the intercessory powers of St. Georgios and reads, “O God of Saint George, help thy servant, Leontios” [Ο Θ(εο)C ΤΟV ΑΓΙΟV ΓΕΟΡΓΙΟV ΒΟΗΘΙ ΤΟV ΔΟUΛΟV CΟV ΛΕΟΝΤΙOV]. There are six control stamps impressed into the bottom of the censer: two round stamps with the bust of the emperor Maurice (582–602) inscribed Lamprotatos (the most splendid); one long stamp with a monogram of the emperor Maurice and a nimbed bust above, inscribed Patrikiou; and three cross shaped stamps with the monogram of Peter inscribed Patrikis (perhaps Peter Barsymes). K. Marsengill Bibliography Frazer 1986, 16; Mango 1986, 256–57, no. 85; Wixom 1999, 37, cat. no. 45.

109. Censer with Six Holy Figures ca. 582–602 Constantinople Silver, partly gilded H. 0.089 m., w. 0.132 m. Said to be from Mesembria, Bulgaria New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund 1985  1985.123 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

There is some distortion to the silver and soldered repairs are visible, indicating that the censer was used over a long period. One link of the chain is lost and another is broken. The hexagonal silver censer is decorated on each side with a figure placed under a segmented arch held on spiral columns with acanthus-leaf capitals. The figure of Christ, depicted beard­ less and with short hair, stands holding a book. The apostles Peter and Paul are represented in the adjoining panels to either side and turn slightly toward the central figure of Christ. Peter holds a cross across at his left shoulder and Paul holds a book. On the opposite side from Christ is a depiction of the Virgin Mary standing with her hands raised in prayer. The panels flanking her image present two archangels holding globes and staves. All


110. Polykandelon 6th century Cast bronze Overall h. 0.51 m., disc: diam. 0.21 m., ring: w. 0.06 m., holes: diam. 0.022 m. Athens, The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, X 915 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

In relatively good condition with incrustations in places. The polykandelon (multiple hanging lamp) consists of a wide ring with six holes for inserting glass oil lamps and three suspension chains hanging from a calyx-shaped element. The inner and outer rims of the ring have incised decoration made up of paired concentric circles. Three loops are soldered to its upper surface, which were used to secure the suspension chains. The chains hang from an element shaped like a floral calyx with six petals, each ending in a small, solid knop. The base of the calyx is knopshaped and terminates in a large suspension hook. Toward the middle of each chain is inserted a medallion with an inscribed, openwork cross. The calyx-shaped element is found on many types of multiwicked lamps and polykandela, and, according to one view, it is a reference to the floral decoration of the seven-branched candlestick described in the Old Testament (Exodus 37:17). The Canellopoulos Museum polykandelon has many similarities, as regards the chains, the medallions, and the calyx-form element, with a polykandelon in the Dumbarton Oaks collection and another in the British Museum, both also dated to the 6th century. A. Zarkadas

Bibliography Splendeur de Byzance 1982, 160, no. Br. 3. [L. Bouras] with bibliography; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 284, no. 297 [Ν. Saraga]; Skampavias – Chatzidaki 2007, 32, cat. no. 21 [Κ. Skampavias]; Xanthopoulou 2010, 48, 289, cat. no. LU 2.018.

111. Triple-nozzle Lamp 5th–6th century Cast bronze H. with lid 0.19 m., h. without lid 0.12 m., l. between nozzles 0.25 m. Athens, The Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum, Χ 704 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The lamp is preserved intact. It is encrusted with deposits in places, mainly on the lower part and inside the hollow nozzles. It stands on a pierced, hexagonal base, at the edges of which rhombuses and palmettes alternate. The body is shaped like a flattened sphere, from which emerge the three nozzles. The filling hole in the center of the body is covered by a semicircular lid, which is topped by a cross. Busts of animals, probably wild goats, project between the nozzles. On the spine, between the nozzles and the body of the lamp, there is a soldered suspension ring for hanging the lamp. The lamp belongs to a particularly widespread category of early Christian lamps with elongated nozzles that turn up at the ends. The form of these lamps recalls the typology of lamps from the Hellenistic period and is found from as early as Roman times, as examples from Pompeii and the shipwrecks of Spargi and Mahdia attest. The diversity found in this type of lamp suggests that they were produced in many different centers in the eastern Mediterranean. A. Zarkadas Bibliography Brouskari 2002b, 134; Skampavias – Chatzidaki 2007, 32, no. 16 [E. Brouskari]; Xanthopoulou 2010, 14, 161, no. LA 3.278.


112. Processional Cross 6th century Copper alloy H. 0.355 m., w. 0.254 m. Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 336 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Copper alloy cross with flared terminals on the cross-arms, which end in pairs of undecorated discs. This type of cross is well known from the early Christian period (Byzance 1992, 118, no. 65; Stiegemann 2001, 147–50, no. I.50), and continued to be produced later on in the form of the copper alloy crosses of the 9th and 10th centuries (Boura 1979, 12) and the inscribed and decorated bronze or silver crosses of the 10th to 12th century (Glory 1997, 58–65, nos. 22–26). Near the ends of the four crossarms are incised on the obverse: ΙC XC N K, (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΝΙΚΑ = Jesus Christ conquers) and on the reverse: ΦΧΦΠ (ΦΩΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ ΦΑΙΝΕΙ ΠΑΣΙ = [the] Light of Christ shines on all). The pointed tang at the bottom, an extension of the lower crossarm, was used to fit the cross into a base or fix it to a pole while it was being processed in public or monastic services. The cross is the symbol par excellence of Christianity, which extols Christ’s triumph over death and has wonder-­ working and healing properties. For this reason such crosses were used not only in stational processions on feast days of the Orthodox Church, but also for litanies invoking divine providence in cases of natural disasters or danger (e.g., earthquakes, floods, or hos­tile sieges). They also accompanied emperors and generals on their campaigns (Galavaris 1991, col. 219s; Cotsonis 1994, 8–32). The rest of the time, these crosses were supported on a suitable base and placed in the sanctuary, behind the altar, or in various parts of the con­gregational space (Cotsonis 1994, 32–37; Galavaris 1994, 95–99). A. Tsakalos



113. Portrait of a Boy Early 1st century Attic workshop Pentelic marble H. 0.219 m. From the area Kolokynthou (Kolonos), Athens Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 3665 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The portrait comes from a relief. The nose, the tip of the chin, and part of the neck are missing. There is damage to the outlines of the ears and the lips. The boy depicted is about ten years old and is turning to the left. He has an oval-shaped face, almond-shaped eyes, and arched brows in relief. The mouth is small with well-marked lips, and the upper lip projects slightly. The hair falls in curls over the forehead. Both the facial features and the hairstyle are commonplace in portraits of the first two Roman imperial families, when dynastic propaganda aimed first and foremost at acquainting people with the family features. The general air of melancholy on the face characterizes Roman child portraits, and the idealized features, with connotations of the classical ideal, are the hallmark of the Augustan period. The boy depicted has been identified by most scholars as Augustus’s grandson Gaius

Caesar (20 bc–ad 4) or his brother Lucius Caesar (17 bc–ad 2), portraits of whom were erected in Greece, or even as Germanicus (15 or 16 bc–ad 19). A special feature is the cross carved on the forehead. This Christian symbol must have been made when the relief was still intact, as the shallow, careful carving attests. Such crosses carved on the forehead, the chest, or the arms of Greco-Roman sculptures are found scattered around the western and eastern fringes of the empire, Christianizing gods and society figures alike. It is impossible to say when these sculptures were thus marked, with the intention of purifying them or driving out their demons until they were finally destroyed. The small number of works that have been Christianized by the addition of the Christian symbol, such as those that were incorporated into churches, as well as information from documentary sources, attest to the survival of some sculptures at least into the first few centuries of Christianity. The idealized child figure, remote and at the same time eloquent, motivated some follower of the new religion to award it temporary salvation by giving it new life. I. Mennenga Bibliography Theophaneides 1927/28, 9, fig. 15; Hafner 1954, 80, no Α 35; Stavrides 1985, 333, pl. 134; Delivorrias 1991, 112.

114. Head of a Statue 2nd−1st century bc and 5th−6th century ad Whitish marble H. 0.25 m., w. 0.20 m. Chance find Rhodes, Byzantine Collection, Palace of the Grand Masters, ΓΧ1278 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The head belongs to a female statue. Only one of the three pieces that would be assembled to form the head has been preserved, as is evident from the mortises drilled on the back, which is roughly worked. Over the left ear are visible locks of the hair, which would have been tied with a ribbon in a bun at the back of the head. On the face, a cross with unequal arms has been carved in low relief, covering the whole surface and entirely effacing the features. In the quarterings of the cross the inscrip­tion IC XC ΝΗΚΑ (Jesus Christ conquers) has been carved. This is a representative example of the transitional period from paganism to Christianity on Rhodes. The head, which, judging by the remnants of the features, belonged to a Roman female statue of the 2nd or 1st century bc, was “exorcized” much later, most probably in the 5th or 6th century ad. This was done by some fanatical adherent of the new religion, who was not satisfied with simply carving a small cross on the forehead or cheeks, as happened in a number of similar examples. In order to entirely deface the features the whole surface was levelled, leaving the cross to stand out, and in the spaces between them the sanctifying inscription was incised. E. Papavassiliou Bibliography Delivorrias 1991; Rhodes 2004, 20, fig. 5; Papavassiliou-Rapti 2007; Deligiannakis 2008, 156–57, fig. 6.


115. Head of Aphrodite 1st century Attic workshop Parian marble H. 0.40 m. Found near the Tower of the Winds, in the Roman Agora in Athens Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 1762 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The head and the neck were broken off from a slightly larger than life-size statue. The nose is broken. The eyes and eyelids are chipped, and the chin and the lips have also suffered some slight chipping. These injuries were undoubtedly caused by early, fanatical Christians, who used to damage ancient statuary, wielding their hammers in particular against the eyes and mouths of the figures (in order to “shut” their mouths and render them “blind”). The figure is turning slightly to the right. Two grooves, one below the chin and the other in the middle of the neck, indicate the “rings of Aphrodite.” The face is ellipsoid with a small but fleshy, half-open mouth. What draws the eye is the elaborate hairstyle, which is bound all around the head with a fillet. Over the forehead the hair is parted and combed into thick, wavy locks on either side, partly covering the ears, while at the back and on the nape of the neck it is bound in a knot. Although this has been claimed as an original work of the 4th century bc, it seems more likely that it is a Roman copy from


the Flavian period (1st century). It belongs to the AspremontLeyden /Arles type of Aphrodite, which has survived in many copies, and is thought to copy one of Praxiteles’ early works from about 370 to 360 bc. Apart from the admittedly exquisite quality of the work itself, there is another feature that gives it added interest: the cross carved on the forehead. This practice should be related chronologically to the hammer blows dealt to the eyes by Christian fanatics. This action is distinct from the impulsive, violent attacks on the idols of the old religion but is a matter of “Christianization” and purification of the female figure, which is “renewed” either simply as a Christian figure or as a female saint, or even as the Virgin Mary herself, as a number of scholars have maintained, although we are not in a position to assert with any certainty which of these was the case. Nevertheless, the fact is that this Christianization of ancient figures seems to have gone on for many years and is a phenomenon observed not only on Greek soil but also in the Latin west. N. Kaltsas Bibliography Kastriotis 1908, 88–90, pl. 5; Croissant 1971 65, figs. 15–17; Lauter 1988, 21–29, pls. 14–19; Delivorrias 1991, 113–14, pl. 54δ; Despinis 1994, 189, 196; Kaltsas 2002, 244, no. 510; Kaltsas – Despinis 2007, 122, no. 25 [A. Corso]; Pasquier-Martinez 2007, 156–57, no. 27 [A. Pasquier].

116. Two-sided Closure Slab with a Gorgon Mask and Cross 6th century Off-white marble with medium-sized crystalline grains Max. extant h. 0.465 m., max. extant l. 0.475 m., d. 0.035 m. From Lechaion, Corinth Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 317 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Chipped around the edges. Abrasions at various points on the surface. On the main face is depicted a Gorgon mask surrounded by double banded interlace with swastikas arranged in the shape of a cross (only the left-hand and lower ones survive). In the spaces between them a dog wearing a collar is running to the right, probably chasing some wild animal. On the other side is a large Latin cross with flared arms and part of a palmette placed diagonally at the right-hand edge. The outline and the execution are characterized by precision. This sculpture belongs to a type of closure slabs that are modeled on pierced slabs. Pierced and pseudo-pierced closure slabs with vegetal symbols in geometric borders constitute a

large group of objects with pretensions to high quality, dated to the early and middle Byzantine periods and found in Con­ stantinople, Greece, Italy, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt. The iconography of the main face is exceptional. The grim Gorgon is an exact reproduction of a Hellenistic type with wings on the head, which was widespread in the Roman period. The choice of this image springs from the belief that it represents the evil connected with the pagan world. The power of the demonic Gorgon is neutralized by the meander-pattern interlace, the hunting dog, and the cross, which all have their roots in demonological beliefs. An analysis of their iconography­—in which the latent exorcizing significance of water plays an important part—combined with the topography of Lechaion and the martyrdom of St. Leonides and the Seven Virgin Deaconesses, who were thrown into the open sea, leads us to posit that the slab could very likely come from their sacred fountain ­(hagiasma). Y. Theocharis Bibliography Philadelpheus 1918, 131, fig. 7; Avraméa 1997, 151; Sklavou-Mavroeidi 1999, 71, no. 95; Byzanz 2010, 191–92, no. 106; Theocharis 2012.


guide and savior of souls, echoing the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:4–7). The wall painting in the catacomb of St. Sebastian in Rome, in which Hermes, as psychopomp, is depicted next to the Good Shepherd, clearly shows the Christian motif’s dependence on the pagan type. An interesting extension of the symbolism of the Good Shepherd comes from a reference in Eusebios, according to which Constantine the Great was the “good shepherd” of his people (Vita Constantini IV, 65). Consequently, statues of the Good Shepherd may have formed part of imperial propaganda, especially if they were set up in public spaces, such as fountains. A. Pianalto Bibliography Picard 1947, 266–81; Wixom 1967, 67–88; Provoost 1982, 159–72; Stefanidou-Tiveriou 1993, 58–73; Sklavou-Mavroeidi 1999, 24; Yamada 1999, 281–305; Aurea Roma 2000, 631–32 [M. Nota Santi]; Cormack – Vassilaki 2008, 378 [A. Tzitzibassi].

117. Pillared Statuette of the Good Shepherd First half 4th century Asia Minor workshop (?) Marble H. 0.47 m., w. 0.29 m., d. 0.17 m. Provenance unknown, found in 1876 at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 3 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The Good Shepherd is one of the most popular iconographical motifs of early Christian art. In the Byzantine Museum’s statu­ ette, the young shepherd is depicted frontally, dressed in a short, belted tunic. With his right hand he holds the outstretched legs of the animal he is carrying on his shoulders. The statuette is in a fragmentary condition: the legs survive to knee level, the left arm and part of the right are missing, and the face is chipped. Behind the figure is a support, which has been flattened at the back so as to fit against a wall. As regards the use of the sculpture, there are two prevailing opinions: it was either a table support or a decorative archi­ tectural member. In support of the former, a parallel can be cited in the table leg found in a cemetery in Thessaloniki (cat. no. 118), the presence of which was probably connected with the celebration of funerary feasts. As to the second suggestion, a corresponding example may exist in the statuette found in a fountain in Byblos in modern-day Lebanon. The Good Shepherd type found in early Christian sculpture seems to stem directly from the Hermes Kriophoros iconography. The Christians endowed this type with the symbolism of Christ as


118. Table Support (trapezorhoron) in the Form of a Youthful Ram Carrier (Kriophoros) Mid-4th century White marble H. 0.955 m., figure: h. 0.575 m., base: h. 0.175 m., w. 0.19 m., d. 0.17 m. Found in the western cemetery of Thessaloniki, at 55 Langada Street Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, AΓ 2491 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Table support with a representation of a young man carrying a ram in the iconographical type of the “Good Shepherd.” The base is almost a cube, framed above and below by frieze and molding, and with feet at all four corners. The abacus has not survived. The young shepherd is depicted frontally. He wears a short, belted tunic, which comes down to just above the knees, and mid-calf-length boots. His right hand holds the ram draped over his shoulders, and his outstretched left hand would have held a crook, which has not survived. His dog sits to the left at his feet. The figure of the young shepherd stands in front of a narrow pillar, which tapers toward the top. The support has a main face and two sides, but the back was intended to remain unseen, and thus the table must have been built to stand against a wall. It was used in a 4th-century large funerary structure with nine vaulted chambers. Many table supports employ the same motif, to which, if the dating corresponds, Christian religious symbolism is often attributed (i.e., a youthful Christ as shepherd boy). The young ram carrier, as a bucolic motif, symbolized the good life for both pagans and Christians, but the Christians gave it new allegorical content to symbolize the mission of Christ as Savior of Christian believers, who are depicted as sheep. This is the first time the subject has been observed in use in a cemetery, and in particular in a funerary structure that contained Christian and pagan tombs. The subject is also found in painted form, with purely Christian content, in the catacombs in Rome. Its use was also widespread on carved stone sarcophagi, and of course, it was also depicted on other objects, whether with religious symbolism or not. The motif continued to be used with its symbolic content into the post-Byzantine period. Two other table supports with the same subject have been found in Thessaloniki: one found on a plot of land northeast of the church of Hagia Sophia (Museum of Byzantine Culture, AΓ 295) and another in the Archaeological Museum (6144). The iconography of the Good Shepherd has also been depicted in the wall paintings of early Christian tombs of the city: for example, in Tomb 4, excavated on the site at 18 Apolloniados Street, Tomb 18, from the site at the Theological School of the Aristotelian University; in the tomb at 12 Bizaniou Street; and in another tomb found at 7 Demosthenous Street. D. Makropoulou Bibliography Makropoulou 2007, 66.

119. Relief from a Sarcophagus with Christ as the Good Shepherd ca. 300 Marble H. 0.363 m., w. 0.305 m., thickness 0.064 m. Princeton University Art Museum, y1952-169; Museum purchase, gift of the Friends of The Princeton University Art Museum Photo © Trustees of Princeton University

In fine condition. Minor chipping at the edges. The back is roughly picked, the sides smoothly sawn. A young shepherd with a sheep slung over his shoulders stands before an architectural structure consisting of spirally fluted Corinthian columns and a low pediment. From other examples we know that he is Christ, embodying the parable of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). The Savior of the Flock is represented with a pudgy face and thick, curly hair punctuated with drill holes. He stands with his weight on his right leg and looks off to his left. He is dressed in a belted, long-sleeved tunic with a scarf-like collar, laced boots, and puttees. Flanking him are two sheep and two trees, in one of which roosts a bird, a symbol of the soul. The broad carving, the squatness of the figure, and the exaggerated size of certain elements point to a date at the end of the 3rd century. The image of the faithful herder carrying a lost animal on his shoulders has roots in archaic Greek art. Its widespread adoption in Late Antiquity as an image of Christ as the Good Shepherd was based on Hellenistic and Roman prototypes in the bucolic tradition. Images of the Good Shepherd occur in variety of media: free-standing sculptures (like the famous example in the Museo Pio Cristino in the Vatican); mosaics (such as those in


the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna); and frescoes (like those in the Catacombs of Priscilla and Callistus). This slab was cut from the center of a sarcophagus, probably of the strigilated type, in which a central panel is flanked by zones of wavy, fluted ornament. Another possibility is that it was one of several arcaded niches containing figural groups, as on a famous sarcophagus in Split, in Croatia. In either case, the structure may represent the Temple gateway, a portal through which even errant souls, retrieved by faith, may enter the Kingdom of Heaven. J. M. Padgett Bibliography Age of Spirituality 1979, 519, no. 463; Padgett 2001, 168–69, no. 48.

120. Grave Stele of the Athenian Aurelia Zosime 3rd century Marble H. 1.2 m., w. 0.67 m., d. 0.25 m. Found in 1856 in Christos Zographos house, in Augeio of Elis Elis, Archaeological Museum of Elis, Λ3613 (Λ90) Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Intact, but with some slight abrasion at the upper left corner. This is an inscribed marble grave stele, with gudgeon, in one piece. A border projects the length of all four sides, slanting toward the inner edges and with obtuse angled corners. Inside this frame, on the right, stands Aurelia Zosime in a frontal, almost hieratic pose. This is an indication that the deceased is being depicted in heroic fashion in accordance with ancient models. The figure has a short hairstyle with four separate braids, which leave the ears uncovered. She stands with her weight on the right leg, while the left is turned to the side and slightly bent. She wears a full-length tunic with stylized folds that follow the movement of the legs and a himation with oblique stripes over the right hip and left shoulder. The garment covers the right forearm and is caught up in her right hand over the chest, falling behind the left arm, which is holding an unidentified object. To the left of the figure a carved inscription in twenty-two lines begins as follows: ΑΥΡ(ΗΛΙΑ) ΖΩΣΙΜΗ / ΑΘΗΝΑΙΑ ΑΦΡΟ/ΔΕΙΣΙΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΚΑΙ/ΘΡΙΑΣΙΟΥ ΓΥΝΗ //ΘΥΓΑΤΗΡ ΔΕ/ΑΥΡ(ΗΛΙΟΥ) ΕΥΚΑΡ/ΠΙΔΟΥ ΤΡΙ/ ΚΟΡΥΣΙΟΥ / ΕΝΘΑΔΕ // ΚΕΙΜΕ / ΤΟΝ ΘΕΟΝ / ΥΜΕΙΝ / ΤΟΝ ΕΠΟΥ/ΡΑΝΙΟΝ . . . (Here lies Aur[elia] Zosime, Athenian and wife of Aphrodeisios Thriasios and daughter of Aur[elios] Eukarpides Trikorysios; our heavenly God . . . ). Inscribed on the upper border are the words: ΕΒΕΙΩΣΑ ΕΤΩΝ ΚΘ (She lived twenty-nine years). We cannot tell if this inscription is Christian or not. Christian inscriptions from the Elis region have come mainly from ancient Elis and Olympia and are dated to between the 4th and 6th centuries. Finally, it is generally agreed that paganism survived for some time in Byzantium, certainly as late as the 6th century, and much longer in some areas of the Peloponnese. C. Matzanas Bibliography Fleischer 1961–63, no 3; Bull. Epigr. 1966, 213; Barnea 1980, 464–65; Feissel – Philippidis-Braat 1985, 373, no. 149; Lambropoulou 1991, 287, 291.


scene of heavenly bliss (Stern 1958, fig. 38, Matthiae 1967, pls. IV, V). The lamp was found together with about 4,000 more clay lamps and numerous other finds in the cave of the “Fountain of the Lamps” in Ancient Corinth, which functioned as a place of worship and a repository for offerings of pagans and Christians alike during the late Roman period and up to the 6th century. Although it was found in a late 5th-century level, scholars have suggested that the object may be dated earlier on typological grounds (cf. Karivieri 1996, 70, 74–75) and bears witness to the coexistence of the different religions and the way iconographic models from antiquity were being integrated into the Christian world. A. Georgiou Bibliography Broneer 1930; Wiseman 1969; Wiseman 1970; Wiseman 1972; Garnett 1975, no. 9; Bailey 1988; Assimakopoulou-Atzaka 2005.

121. Lamp with Depiction of a Putto 350–400 Corinthian workshop Corinthian white clay (10YR 8/3) and slip on the lower parts (10YR 7/4) H. 0.03 m., l. 0.086 m., w. 0.076 m. Found in the “Fountain of the Lamps,” gymnasium area, Ancient Corinth Ancient Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth, L 69-94 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Broneer type 28; mold-made; nozzle not preserved; along the rim traces of herringbone pattern (near the handle) and paired ridges in relief; handle in one piece; annular base. The nozzle is set off by a pair of grooves. The filling hole is off-center. A second opening can be found within the discus area, near the nozzle. The circular discus bears the relief figure of a small-sized frontal male, who is naked and appears to be stepping on a flat structure. He holds a bunch of grapes in his left hand and a sickle in his right. The figure on the discus may be interpreted as a wingless putto or a young Bakchos gathering grapes and treading them in a structure, which can be identified as a wine press (cf. Bailey 1980, 14, 17, 22). The scene’s prototypes are to be found in contemporary Attic pottery (Agora VII, 1961, pl. 47c, no. 747). The subject was popular in the Greco-Roman world. Putti were introduced in Christian art early on and appear in numerous variations, in all figurative media. A typical example may be found in the mosaics on the ceiling of the deambulatory in the mausoleum of Santa Costanza in Rome (mid-4th century), where vintaging putti are conceptually incorporated into a Christian

122. Lamp with Depiction of a Peacock 5th century Reddish brown clay Max. h. 0.042 m., l. 0.095 m., w. 0.064 m. From Nea Anchialos Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 10 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

This intact lamp of reddish brown clay has a round body and a protruding wick hole, which preserves traces of soot, and the discus has two fill/air holes. On the base two incised concentric circles surround the foot-shaped potter’s stamp (planta pedis), which characterizes lamps dated to the 5th century (Bailey 1988, 372, nos. Q3110, Q3105, Q3122, pl. 105). Lamps of this type (Broneer type 29, group 4, Broneer 1930, 114, nos. 1413, 1423, pl. xx) have been found in large quantities in Ephesus, which is considered to be their place of manufacture in the period 450–600 (Bailey 1988, 372). The decoration of the lamp is of particular interest on account of the conjunction of various different symbolic elements. To be specific, on the lower part of


the wick hole, a cross with unequal arms has been carved, the symbol par excellence of Christianity. On the body of the discus there is an embossed frontal image of a peacock with tail fanned out. This was a paradisiac symbol of the goddess Hera in antiquity and was adopted by Christianity with similar symbolism, referring to the Second Coming and eternal life for the faithful in Paradise. The lip is encircled with embossed vines, bunches of grapes, and stylized vine leaves, symbols of the god Dionysos from antiquity, which in Christian art acquire Eucharistic con­tent and refer to the wine of the Holy Communion and the blood of Christ, in other words to the “life in Christ” of believers. In this period of transition between two worlds, it is perfectly natural for such purely Christian symbols and older motifs from antiquity, which were adopted by Christian art and acquired new symbolism, to be found side by side in the decoration of this lamp. A. Tsakalos

Bibliography Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 297, no. 316; see also Broneer 1930; Bailey 1988.

123. Hanging Lamp in the Form of a Fish 4th–5th century Yellow-ochre clay H. 0.082 m., l. 0.225 m. Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 12 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Lamp made of yellow-ochre clay in the shape of a fish. From its mouth emerges the head of another, smaller, upturned fish, which provides the wick hole for the lamp. In the middle of the back are fill and an air hole. The lamp was intended to be hung from two openings, one on either fin, on the back. The details on the body of the fish, such as the scales and the fins, are depicted with attention to naturalistic detail. In the center of the body an embossed Christogram can be seen on one side and a cross with flared terminals on the other. The presence of the Christian symbols par excellence underlines the symbolic character of the object, and its piscine form further enhances the symbolism. Fish-shaped artifacts are


known from antiquity, as far back as the archaic period (Mitten – Doeringer 1968, no. 62). This pre-existing form is adopted by Christian art and acquires new symbolism, as it now refers to Christ himself, just as the word ΙΧΘΥΣ (fish in Greek) refers to the initial letters of the phrase: Ιησοyς Χριστoς Θεοy Υιoς Σωτhρ (Jesus Christ Son of God Savior). Thus the fish developed into a particularly popular Christian symbol and was found in a great variety of objects, especially during the early Christian period (Galavaris 1970, 57–58; Dauterman Maguire – Maguire – Duncan-Flowers 1989, 22–23). Thanks to its symbolism, the lamp may have been used in either a secular or a religious or funerary context. Clay lamps in the form of fish were quite widely disseminated in the 4th and 5th centuries and are thought to be Egyptian in origin (cf. Graziani Abbiani 1969, 79–80, figs. 41, 42; Piotrovsky 1998, 156, no. 232; Kakovkine 1991, 891, fig. 119a–b). A. Tsakalos Bibliography Papanikola-Bakitzi 2002, 296, no. 313.

The first symbols with indisputably Christian content appear in lamps of this type in the 4th century: the chi-rho monogram (ΧΡ), symbol of Christ the Savior, and later the cross. Other motifs, such as animals (lamb, goat, peacock, dove, fish, bear, and other wild animals) or figures (the Good Shepherd), come from the pagan repertoire and are sometimes interpreted as allegories with religious content, whereas sometimes they are simply decorative. The same is true of the geometric and plant motifs that cover the shoulder area. Ceramic oil lamps continued to be the preeminent means of lighting in this period. They were simple everyday objects belonging to the poorest members of society, and their decoration with Christian symbols represents an expression of personal devotion and of people’s need to constantly protect themselves with the symbols of the new faith, which pervaded every moment of their lives. E. Melliou Unpublished Bibliography Broneer 1930, 108–22; Menzel 1969, 90–93, no. 606; Ennabli 1976,

124. Mold-made Lamp Mid-5th century Clay, Munsell color 5YR 6/6 H. with handle 0.046 m., l. with handle 0.119 m., w. 0.073 m., base: diam. 0.039 m. Found in Kalamoto, Thessaloniki Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, ΜΘ 5301

22–28; Djuric 1995, 73–74 (C226); Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 299–301; Zalesskaya 2006, 204, no. 462, 210, nos. 480–481; Gerousi 2010; Marki 2010; Motsianos 2010.

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Preserved almost intact. Only the tip of the handle has been lost, and there are some slight abrasions on the outer edges of the shoulder and the top of the nozzle, which has significant traces of soot. The lamp is made of fine reddish-yellow clay and covered with a thin layer of slip of the same color. The lamp has a low annular base with two concentric grooves in the center. The ribbing of the high, unperforated rostrate handle goes right down to the base. The body is round and ends in an elongated nozzle, with which is connected by a wide, shallow channel. On the curved sides and on the inside walls, the horizontal line marking the join between its two mold-made parts can be seen. The shallow discus is decorated with a Christogram in relief with a fine, carefully executed outline with granulated inlay. On either side of the discus, two openings of identical size, a filling hole and a ventilation hole, are placed symmetrically. The discus is framed by a raised ring, which also frames the channel and encircles the tip of the nozzle. On the shoulder scrollwork alternates with roundels with concentric circles and radiating lines, six on either side of the discus. The vessel repeats a common type of lamp that was produced in the workshops of North Africa, mainly Tunisia, from the late 4th century to the 6th and exported in large numbers to Italy and Greece. New molds and copies were sub­sequently produced in local workshops, especially in Corinth and Athens.

125. Mold-made Lamp Second half 5th century Clay, Munsell color 5YR 6/6 H. with handle 0.054 m., extant h. with handle 0.117 m., w. 0.077 m., base: diam. 0.042 m. Papaeliakis Collection (Macedonia) Thessaloniki, Archaeological Museum, ΜΘ 11750 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism


Preserved almost intact. The nozzle is broken, and only the part up to the opening of the combustion hole is left. The lamp is made of fine, reddish-yellow clay with some impurities. The upper part is very thinly covered with carelessly applied slip of a chestnut-brown color, black in places. The body of the lamp is oval with a rudimentary, annular base, in the center of which are three concentric circles in relief. The ribbing part of the tall, unperforated rostrate handle also ends in the base. The elongated nozzle is joined to the discus by a broad, shallow channel. On the inside of the lamp can be seen the join in its two mold-made parts. The shallow discus is decorated with a depiction of the Sacrifice of Abraham in relief. The bearded figure of Abraham is depicted in the center, striding out to the right. He wears a short tunic and holds a knife in his raised right hand, while he stretches out his other hand toward the head of the small, childish form of Isaac in the right-hand part of the scene. Behind Isaac the branch of a palm tree can be made out, recalling the bundle of sticks the child had brought for the sacrifice. At the left of the scene, toward which Abraham is turning his head, are depicted the sacrificial lamb (below) and the Hand of God (above) pointing to it. The whole scene is very stylized, with strong outlines for the figures, and the only decoration is the dots that cover their draperies and the animal’s fleece. On the discus, above and below the scene, are two symmetrically placed openings of the same size, one for the filling hole and the other for ventilation. The shoulder is separated from the discus by a raised ring, which goes on to encircle the channel and is decorated with carelessly executed small wheels in relief, seven on either side. At the beginning of the channel is a small rosette made up of tiny roundels with a dot in the center. The lamp belongs to the North African type, similar to ΜΘ 5301 (cat. no. 124). On these lamps we find certain scenes from the Old Testament (e.g., Sacrifice of Abraham, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Nebuchadnezzar and the Three Hebrews) with which the followers of the new religion chose to decorate the catacombs, mosaic pavements, sculptures, and other minor artifacts, endowing them with allegorical content related to spiritual salvation. In particular, as regards the Sacrifice of Abraham, Isaac was considered a type of Christ by the biblical commentators and his sacrifice an allegory of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. E. Melliou

126. Lamp with Scene of the Raising of Lazarus Late 4th century Reddish-brown clay Max. h. 0.035 m., l. 0.09 m., w. 0.06 m. Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 378 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The intact lamp of reddish-brown clay has a round body with a filler-hole on the discus, a stilted handle, and a protruding wick hole, which preserves traces of soot. The lamp seems to belong to the earliest type of Egyptian lamp, which is related to the classical Roman lamps dated to the 3rd and 4th centuries (Hoff 1986, 122, nos. 149, 150; Guidoti 1998, 104, no. 101). Similar lamps, now in Berlin, were found in Asia Minor and Egypt (Wulff 1909, 245, pl. lix, nos. 1227–1229). The decoration on the discus, a relief depiction of the Raising of Lazarus, is interesting. In the center a beardless Christ is depicted full length, while above his head is an open Christogram. He is turning to the right and touching with his staff the head of the dead Lazarus, who is wrapped in a shroud and swathed in bandages. This is a new, completely Christian iconographical subject inspired by the description of the miracle in St. John’s Gospel (11:1–45). It is introduced into the art of the new religion and depicted in the same way from the 3rd century until late in the 6th century on artifacts of the minor arts, in catacomb wallpaintings, and on the sculpted decoration of sarcophagi (Le Blant 1888, 213–14, pl. 4; Age of Spirituality 1979, no. 404).


A. Tsakalos Bibliography Broneer 1930, 118, 286–87, no. 1468, fig. 53; Ennabli 1976, 27, 43,


nos. 14, 15, pl. i; Papanikola-Bakirtzi 2002, 528, no. 729; Chrzanovski

Mysterion 2002, 280.

2003, 98, no. 134; Dina 2010.


127. Lamp with Depiction of the Ascension 440–90 Brown clay coated with reddish-brown slip L. 0.123 m., w. 0.067 m., h. with handle 0.04 m., h. without handle 0.026 m. Found in a tomb at Perivoli in the Spercheios valley, Phthiotis Hypati, Byzantine Museum of Phthiotis, ΦΚ 168 (13)

two men in white who said: ‘Men of Galilee, why stand there looking up into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken away from you up to heaven, will come in the same way as you have seen him go.’” (I Acts: 10–11). The Hand of God has been misinterpreted as a scroll or the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, which was given to Peter, and the two men have been read as representing the eleven apostles at the Ascension or as the apostles Peter and James, who, according to the Protoevangelion of James were chosen by Christ as witnesses to the miraculous event (Herrmann – Hoek 2003, 295–96). The Perivoli lamp, which is adorned with one of the earliest depictions of the Ascension, belongs to a group of 5th-century North African lamps, which includes eleven well-known pieces with the same eschatological and Salvationist subject and with more or less the same dimensions. They are as follows: one from Syracuse (Orsi 1915, 207–8, fig. 18), one from Carthage (Ennabli 1976, 52, no. 75, pl. 3), one from the villa at Piazza Armerina (Gentili 1952, 86, figs. 1, 4), one from Corinth (Broneer 1930, 288, no. 1479, fig. 205), one from Kenchreai (Williams 1981, no. 426), one in the Louvre (Lyon-Caen – Hoff 1986, 102–3, no. 50), one formerly in the Temple Gallery in London (Spira 1990, 83, no. 34, fig. on p. 80), one in a private collection in America (Herrmann – Hoek 2003, 293–94, fig. 1), and another in a private collection in Germany (Garbsch – Overbeck 1989, 138, no. 86, pl. on p. 76). Most lamps featuring the Ascension have been found in catacombs, necropolises, or tombs and accompany the dead as a reminder or promise of their resurrection at the Second Coming. The relatively rare depiction of the Ascension on pottery makes the group to which the Perivoli lamp belongs significant in the history of early Christian iconography. G. Kakavas Bibliography Pantos 1992, 419, 421, pl. 91γ; Sythiakaki-Kritsimalli 2002, 63–64.

Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Intact clay lamp from the workshops of North Africa. The handle is imperforated, beak-shaped, and very high. The rim is embellished with a series of stamped medallions in the form of triangles, rhombuses inscribed in circles, concentric squares, and the Christogram in a laurel wreath. The discus and the groove are decorated with a densely populated narrative scene, which is identifiable as the Ascension. In the center, a full-length Christ in a long tunic is “ascending” to heaven in a large, circular aureole, borne by two flying angels situated on either side of the lower part. Christ holds a cruciform staff in his left hand, while with his right he grasps the Hand of God, who pulls him into the heavenly kingdom. The ascendant Christ is flanked by the symbols of the Evangelists. Below the main scene, on the groove, two full-length figures in tunics are striding to the left holding torches. These are the “two men in white” described in the Acts of the Apostles who address the apostles and predict the Second Coming: “As he was going and as they were gazing intently into the sky, all at once there stood before them [i.e., the disciples]


128–131. The Maroneia Ivories

128. Plaque with the Head of a Beardless Man

From an artistic and iconographic point of view, the ivory finds from Maroneia are governed by rules that we find in sculpture of the Late Antique period in Constantinople. They connect the classicizing manner with the simplified depiction of details (exemplified by the full-length orans figures); the expression of spiritual intensity (the plaque with the figure of a youth) with the air of meditation or a meditative feel (the plaque with the bearded male head); the slightly compressed proportions with soft movement (the full-length orants); a look of youthful sweetness (the orans youth) with stern frontality (the plaque with the bearded male). More specifically, the projection of the figures as solid, three-dimensional entities (orants), the stance of the bodies (orants), the extensive repertoire of human types with different expressions (orants and the plaques of the youth and the middle-aged man), the obvious arrangement in multiple zones (objects on different scales), and the architectonic ordering of subjects (arches supported on columns) are all elements from the sculptural decoration of sarcophagi. It is well known that this category of special tomb monuments, in which the dominant stylistic trends and changes can always be traced, influenced the ivory (and bone) decoration of wooden caskets. S. Doukata-Demertzi

Late 5th−early 6th century Constantinopolitan workshop (?) Ivory L. 0.06 m., w. 0.035 m., max. thickness 0.01 m. Found in a rubbish pit that contained inter alia pieces of ivory decoration, most probably from a casket, in the sanctuary of an early Christian basilica in Paliochora, Maroneia Kavala, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, Megaro Tokou, ΑΓΚ 1508 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The object has been preserved in mediocre condition. The outline of the figure has been carefully incised on the plaque. It must have been attached to the wooden backing with glue, as can be seen from the unusually deep incisions on the back, needed to make the adhesive stick. The plaque depicts a young, beardless male with harmonious and limpid features, turned in three-quarter profile toward the left. The thick hair in a pudding-bowl cut, with slightly wavy locks that hang down and curl over the forehead, covers the ears, thus emphasizing the fleshy cheeks. The overall classical beauty of the youth goes hand in hand with something transcendental. The ecstatic eyes have holes for insetting some other material and gaze beyond the earthly world. The continuous curve of brows and nose endows the facial expression with grandeur. The meticulous rendering is reminiscent of the individuals on consular diptychs, yet this head belongs to an artistic context that will only be fully expressed later in the figure of Justinian on the Barberini diptych. S. Doukata-Demertzi Bibliography Doukata-Demertzi 2008; Doukata-Demertzi 2011.


different material decorated the outfit. The painting of the surface of the ivory emphasized the range of colors. This kind of costume, usually combined with a Phrygian cap (pilos), copies eastern models and is prevalent in sculpture and the minor arts of the Late Antique period, whether in subjects derived from the pagan tradition or depictions inspired by the Christian repertoire. It is often linked with depictions of barbarians, the Wise Men in scenes of the Adoration of the Magi, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, or the Three Hebrews from the Old Testament. S. Doukata-Demertzi Bibliography Doukata-Demertzi 2008; Doukata-Demertzi 2011.

129. Plaque with Male Orant in Relief Late 5th−early 6th century Constantinopolitan workshop (?) Ivory Extant h. 0.10 m., w. 0.06 m., thickness 0.02 m. (including the intense curvature of the ivory) Found in a rubbish pit that contained inter alia pieces of ivory decoration, most probably from a casket, in the sanctuary of an early Christian basilica in Paliochora, Maroneia Kavala, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, Megaro Tokou, ΑΓΚ 1506 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The object has been preserved in mediocre condition, the head (aside from part of the jaw) and the left side with one arm not having survived. The ivory, originally off-white, has taken on a yellowish “patina” with the passage of time. The craftsman has exploited the curvature of the ivory in his carving, so that the back of the plaque uses the hollow part of the tusk. Consequently, the cracks of the material have the same direction as the cutting of the bone, which is parallel to the hollow. The body is turned slightly to the right and leans against the architectural framework (an arch supported on columns) behind it. The figure is wearing a tunic with sleeves (which has a large tuck in it at upper thigh level, leaving a sharp-edged fold between the thighs) and a voluminous military cloak fixed with a buckle on the chest, which creates thick folds between the bent arms. The legs are clothed in trousers or oriental-style leggings. Parallel vertical lines on the tunic and leggings indicate that bands of a

130. Plaque with Figure of an Orans Youth in Relief Late 5th−early 6th century Constantinopolitan workshop (?) Ivory H. 0.125 m., w. 0.05 m., thickness 0.015 m. (including the slight curvature of the ivory) Found in a rubbish pit that contained inter alia pieces of ivory decoration, most probably from a casket, in the sanctuary of an early Christian basilica in Paliochora, Maroneia Kavala, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, Megaro Tokou, ΑΓΚ1505 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism


The plaque is in fairly good condition. The ivory, originally off-white, has acquired a yellowish “patina” with the passage of time. Its poriferous aspect is most probably caused by its having been eroded by the high lime-mortar content of the level in which it was found. The back is vertically aligned with the hollow interior of the tusk. The plaque depicts, in carefully crafted relief, a young beardless man in an orans pose, dressed in a tunic with sleeves and a himation. The arms abut the upper torso, his weight is on the left leg, and the right leg is slightly bent. He stands on a low pedestal in front of an arch supported on columns that touches his head. The short, pudding-bowl haircut wreathes the forehead and temples with identical curls. The holes in the pupils of the eyes were intended to be inset with wax or some other material. Similar holes in the ears are unlikely to be meant for earrings (which do not seem to correspond with his dress), and there are no traces of any additional element having been fixed to the head, such as a halo. The drapery folds have been rendered with precision and regularity on the sensitive material and are sufficiently supple to show off the stance and the anatomy of the body. By contrast, the lower extremities have been carved in a more naive fashion. Details on the arch and on the colonnettes are incised. The sweet figure of the youth is redolent of introspection and a pious nature, which is underlined by the slight inclination of the almost childish head to the left, the fixing of the gaze on some invisible spot low down and the subtly bending pose. S. Doukata-Demertzi Bibliography Doukata-Demertzi 2008; Doukata-Demertzi 2011.

131. Plaque with Head of a Bearded Man Late 5th−early 6th century Constantinopolitan workshop (?) Ivory H. 0.06 m., w. 0.035 m., max. thickness 0.01 m. Found in a rubbish pit, which contained inter alia pieces of ivory decoration, most probably from a casket, in the sanctuary of an early Christian basilica in Paliochora, Maroneia Kavala, 12th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities, Megaro Tokou, ΑΓΚ 1507 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The plaque is in relatively good condition. The outline of the head has been carefully cut away on the plaque. It must have been attached to the wooden backing with glue, as can be seen from the unusually deep incisions on the back, needed to make the adhesive stick. This is a frontal depiction of a middle-aged, bearded man with a fairly broad face, marked eyebrows, and a slightly flattened nose and cheek bones. The short hair and the beard are somewhat unkempt. The pupils of the eyes have holes, intended to be inset with some other material. The head exudes an air of severity but also spirituality. S. Doukata-Demertzi Bibliography Doukata-Demertzi 2008; Doukata-Demertzi 2011.


132. Plaque 4th century H. 0.082 m., l. 0.06 m., thickness 0.007 m. Bone Found in House A in Amphipolis Amphipolis, Archaeological Museum, ΑΓΚ 1383 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Rectangular plaque with a high relief banded border, chipped on the left-hand side. The side with the relief has a large, vertical split and a number of smaller ones. The scene is made up of three figures. A frontal standing Christ dominates the right-hand half of the scene. He is depicted as a youthful type with short, curly hair, his weight on the left leg and the right ready to step into the border. He is wearing a tunic and himation, one end of which is gathered up at the waist and falls loosely over the bent left arm, in which he carries a staff. With the index finger of his right hand, bent at an angle, he touches the left eye of a blind man, who is depicted in the left-hand corner of the scene as a beardless youth, his head facing front and his body in three-quarter profile. His right hand on the diagonal shows the hesitancy of the pose, while in his left he holds a short but sturdy staff. In the background,

between the two figures, the head of a middle-aged apostle is visible, a witness to the scene, who raises his arms in a pose indicative of wonder and astonishment, familiar from other similar scenes. The miracle of the healing of the blind man was a popular subject in the iconography of early Christian art, as it was linked with the symbolic content of baptism. The subject was created in its basic form as early as the 3rd century in two main variations: one with Christ on the left and the other with Christ on the right and one or more witnesses present, depending on the space available. The rendering of the faces with their large eyes, the pupils furnished with drill holes, the classicizing modeling of the hair and the drapery folds, and the disproportionate relationship between the heads and extremities and the bodies indicate the plaque is likely to date to the 4th century. Its overall arrangement suggests that it was created in a provincial workshop. S. Dadaki Unpublished Bibliography Kitzinger 1960, 19–42; Age of Spirituality 1979.


133. The “David” Plates


The nine silver David plates belong to the second Lambousa treasure found accidentally in 1902 and now divided between the Cyprus Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The plates are in three different sizes, and each one narrates an event from King David’s early years, based on the Old Testament. On the reverse, all the plates bear imperial control stamps dating from 613 to 629 /30, during the reign of Herakleios (610–41). Although silver plates of early Byzantine period have been found in different parts of the empire, the iconographical program of these plates depicting events of King David’s life as a continuous narrative cycle make them unique. The David on these plates has been associated with the image of the emperor Herakleios and his victory over the Persian general Razatis in 627. However, a recent study interprets the images on the plates as a depiction of David’s paideia (education) and consequently reflects the emperor’s paideia. In this sense, the representation of the plates testifies to the transformation of classical tradition of paideia into a medieval tradition, in which the heroes of classical mythology have been transformed into biblical ones. Fr. Hadjichristophi

133a. Plate with Marriage of David to Michal 628–30 Constantinopolitan workshop Silver, cast, hammered, engraved, punched, and chased H. 0.038 m., max. diam. 0.268 m. Found at Lambousa, Cyprus Nicosia, Cyprus Museum, J452 Photo © Cyprus Museum, Nicosia




The plate is complete and in good, stable condition with no major breaks. The surface is shiny with some scratches, minor abrasions, and very little tarnishing. Saul is standing on a dais supervising the ceremony as the central figure of the scene. The young couple is standing on either side of Saul with their right hands joined. David is not dressed in short tunics as on the other eight plates. On the contrary, he now wears a long-sleeved tunic and a full-length cloak, as does Michal. Cross-bow fibulas fasten Michal’s cloak at the chest and David’s cloak at the right shoulder. Michal’s cloak is particularly enriched with fine embroideries. Flute players, like guards, flank the couple. A basket full of small round objects, probably coins, and two tied bags are shown in the exergue. The event is taking place in front of an arcaded pediment. The subject of dextrarum junctio derives from Roman iconography, which survived through the Byzantine era, as it can be seen on monetary images or on medallions of wedding belts. Now the Roman gods, which presided over the ceremony, are replaced by an emperor or Christ. The costumes, the architectural background, and the symmetrical position of the persons taking place in the event—the central person in a frontal position flanked by two bodyguards—recall imperial ceremonial

art. In this respect, the plate can be compared with the 5th-century Missorium of Theodosios in the Real Academia in Madrid. All of these elements appear on the plate that depicts the Representation of David to Saul of the Lambousa treasure, where the basket and the two tied bags are also found in the exergue. Fr. Hadjichristophi

133b. Plate with David Fighting a Bear 628–30 Constantinopolitan workshop Silver, cast, hammered, engraved, punched, and chased H. 0.038 m., max. diam. 0.14 m. Found at Lambousa, Cyprus Nicosia, Cyprus Museum, J453 Photo © Cyprus Museum, Nicosia

The plate is complete and in good, stable condition. The surface is shiny with some scratches, minor abrasions, and little tarnishing. This scene is taking place in a bucolic space. David is dressed with a long tunic and a cloak and is depicted seated on a rock, holding a lyre with his left hand as he turns his glance to the left toward the messenger. His right hand is upraised in a gesture of speech with the messenger who enters in a hurry from the left. The messenger is a young man wearing a short tunic and boots. He holds a long rod with his right hand, and with his left upraised hand he responds to David’s dialogue. In the fore­ ground, one sheep from David’s flock is grazing and another is resting. The divine instruction for the event taking place is indicated by the presence of the sky on the upper part of the scene, including the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Fr. Hadjichristophi


The plate is complete and in good, stable condition with no major breaks. The surface is shiny with minor scratches and abrasions and very little tarnishing. The scene is taking place from right to left. David is depicted at the moment he is ready to kill the animal that attacked his flock. He is shown from the back with his body twisted as he tries to immobilize the bear by holding its head with his left hand. In his efforts, he has jumped on the animal’s back. In his upraised right hand, David holds a pointed weapon. As the bear runs toward the left to escape, it turns its head to the right and looks at his slayer with a frightened expression that gives the scene a dramatic character. This plate complements a similar example from the David plates, where David is shown from the front killing a lion. The refined classicizing style of the plate characterizes that of luxury objects designed for domestic use in the early Byzantine period, which maintained continuity with the past but at the same time introduced new themes borrowed from the Old and New Testaments. Scenes of heroes fighting with animals, such as Herakles and the lion of Nemea on the silver plate in the Cabinet de Médailles, Bibliothèque nationale de France, with which one of the David plates have been compared, are transformed under the new conceptions of narration. The David cycle has its parallels in illuminated manuscripts and Coptic textiles, which constitute examples of the luxury arts that reflect the taste of a wealthy society and reveal the influence of Old Testament narrative on the new Christian culture. Fr. Hadjichristophi

133c. P  late with David Summoned by Messenger to Saul 628–30 Constantinopolitan workshop Silver, cast, hammered, engraved, punched, and chased H. 0.038 m., max. diam. 0.14 m. Found at Lambousa, Cyprus Nicosia, Cyprus Museum, J454 Photo © Cyprus Museum, Nicosia

Stylianou – Stylianou 1969; Weitzmann 1970, 97–111; Age of Spirituality 1979, 475–83, nos. 425–432; Mango 1998, 207–52; Evans 2001, 34–37; Leader – Newby 2004, 173–216, figs. 4.7–4.15; Flourentzos 2008, 385, nos. 30–31.

134. Signet Ring 4th–5th century Constantinople (?) Gold Overall 0.013 m., h. 0.025 m., w. 0.025 m.; bezel diam. 0.012 m., 0.004 m.; hoop diam. 0.019–0.021 m. Zucker Family Trust; on loan to the Walters Art Museum Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, TL. 1985.10.51 Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

This well-preserved gold ring has an engraved round bezel in the form of a truncated cone; the hoop, flat in section, is made up of nine small discs and twenty soldered pellets (one now lost), two between each disc. The Zucker ring, like many Late Antique and Byzantine rings, would have served as a signet or seal ring. Although this example does not include the name of the owner, the engraved design would have left a clear and identifiable raised mark when pressed into wax or clay. The deep and skillfully executed intaglio, the unusual and complex hoop, and the weight of gold used in this ring all point to a wealthy owner. The bezel of this


exceptional ring depicts the dove that returned to Noah’s ark with an olive branch (Genesis 8:10, 11), placed above the Lamb of God. Noah’s dove was used in early Christian art to symbolize salvation and hope, and the lamb as an emblem of Christ (derived from the Gospel of John 1:29) was widespread throughout the early Christian and medieval eras. This juxtaposition of Noah’s dove and the Lamb of God is not common, but from an early date, Christians sought to reconcile their new religion with its historical foundation by pairing scenes or figures from the Old and New Testaments, and this may well be an example of this typological approach. In form and quality, the Zucker ring is related to two rings in the British Museum; the dove with the olive branch is depicted above a cross and a pair of bust-length figures on a ring now at the Canellopoulos Museum in Athens.

135. Bowl Base with Miracle Scenes Late 4th century Roman Glass and gold leaf Diam. 0.107 m., h. 0.05 m. Possibly found in the catacomb of St. Callistus, Rome New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1916  16.174.2 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

K. Gerry Bibliography Vikan 1987, 33, fig. 5 (cf. figs. 6, 7); Vikan 1990, 149, 150, 153, 154, figs. 10, 17 (for comparative material).

The outer edge of the glass has been roughly cut and is chipped. The portrait of an unknown man in the center medallion is surrounded by the Latin transliteration of the Greek word ZHCAIC (Live!). The young man is depicted wearing a tunic and pallium, and he raises his right hand in a gesture of speech. Encircling the medallion are scenes from the Old and New Testaments. Beginning at the top, the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace are depicted among stylized flames with their hands raised in prayer. They are garbed in Persian-style striped, belted tunics and ornate leggings and are wearing pointed Phrygian caps. Just to the right is an image of Christ wearing a long tunic and holding an upraised staff. This is the usual depiction of Christ as miracle worker. Because Christ is turned toward the three Hebrews, it is implied that he was responsible for saving them from their fiery execution. Further to the right is a representation of the paralytic who was healed by Christ. The paralytic stands holding a pallet across his shoulders and facing Christ, who is again represented as miracle worker raising his staff in the direction of the paralytic. Next is an image of Tobias, shown wearing a girdled tunic and inserting his hand into the fish’s mouth. Finally, Christ is depicted with seven pots, most likely a representation of the miracle at Cana, where Christ turned water into wine. Christians were often interred in grave cells, called loculi, cut directly into the stone walls of underground catacombs. This gold glass, originally part of a bowl, would have been embedded in the plaster that was used to seal the opening of a loculus. Such a decoration would have announced that the person buried within was a Christian. The miracle scenes are related to the theme of salvation through Christ. K. Marsengill Bibliography Vopel 1899, no. 85; Avery 1921, 172–73 , fig. 2; Morey – Ferrari 1959, 72–73, no. 448; Age of Spirituality 1979, 430–31, no. 388; Grig 2004, 207, fig. 1.


The cross is the symbol par excellence of Christianity, as it refers to Christ’s triumph over death and by extension expresses the believer’s hope of eternal life. Thanks to this symbolism, this particular cross is the most suitable base on which to inscribe an invocation for the commemoration and “eternal rest” of the deceased, who in life had served as a deacon, an office found in the church hierarchy from the earliest Christian times. A. Tsakalos Unpublished

136. Cross with Votive Inscription 6th century Copper alloy H. 0.131 m., w. 0.102 m. From Philadelphia, Asia Minor, Donated by Georgios Lambakis (21/11/1906) Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 347 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

The copper alloy cross has flared cross-arms, decorated at the terminals with projecting discs. At the ends of the cross-arms eight small holes containing rivets survive and two larger ones are on the discs at either end of the upper part of the horizontal cross-arm, probably of a different period. This is an indication that at some point, whether at the time it was made or later, the cross was attached to another surface, such as a piece of furniture or a casket or even a Gospel cover. Around the edges of the obverse, a chased decorative band imitating herringbone pattern frames the following inscription: ΥΠΕΡ / ΜΝΙ / ΜΗC / ΚΑΙ / Α / Ν / Α / ΠΑΥ / CΕ / ΟC / ΔΙΑ / ΚΟ / ΝΟΥ / CI / MI / ONH / OY + (In memory of the Deacon Semionios and for his [eternal] rest +). The inscription is read starting on the vertical cross-arm from top to bottom and continues from left to right on the horizontal cross-arm. It is written in capitals in a rounded script, the letters terminating in dots. The content of the inscription links it with similar crosses (Stiegemann 2001, 202–3, nos. I.80–I.83) and a series of offerings (crosses, chalices, patens, lamps, ewers) of the 6th to 7th century, on which the name of the donor is combined with an invocation: (most commonly ΥΠΕΡ ΕΥΧΗΣ . . . [A prayer for . . .], and more rarely: ΥΠΕΡ ΣΩΤΗΡΙΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΑΠΑΥΣΕΩΣ … [For the salvation and [eternal] rest of . . . ) (Mango 1986, passim, especially 188–91, 234, nos. 41, 64).

137. Tomb Painting with Foliate Cross and Festoons 6th century Workshop of Thessaloniki Fresco on plaster H. 0.97 m., l. 1.81 m. Found in a tomb in the early Christian east cemetery of Thessaloniki during a rescue dig in the precincts of the St. Demetrios Hospital Thessaloniki, Museum of Byzantine Culture, ΒΤ 63Α Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Losses to the paint surface in the lower part and at the edges. Wall painting that decorated the inside of a tomb chamber, measuring 2.20 by 1.05 meters by 1.60 meters high. The tomb was oriented north-south, and the entrance was on the short northern wall and was closed with a schist slab. It had a dirt floor and wall paintings on the two long walls. A band of red outlined in black, enclosed in two thin black lines, separates the white paint surface into two registers. The central motif in the upper register is a red cross with unequal arms and flared terminals. From the base of the cross emerge two palm branches. On either side of the cross are depicted clumps of plants: on the left, thin-stemmed plants with red flowers, and on the right, reeds and another plant with red flowers. The lower register is decorated with branches, festoons, and red ribbons hung symmetrically from the fine black line.


A cross surrounded by flowering plants symbolizes paradise. From the 6th century on, the life-giving foliate cross is identified with Christ. The decoration of tombs with branches, garlands, ribbons, and flowers was a widespread Roman funerary custom and was incorporated into the Christian religion. In the early Christian period, the family of the deceased used to decorate the tomb on the anniversary of the death and for the funerary meals held in memory of the departed. A number of tombs dated to the 6th century, which have similar decoration with crosses surrounded by plants or trees, have been found in Thessaloniki. A. Tzitzibassi Bibliography

bold appearance of Christ on the coinage of Constantinople strengthened the opposition of the Roman church to what it viewed as idolatry in Byzantium and contributed to the developing schism between the churches. It is significant that the two usurpers whose reigns interrupted that of Justinian II in 695, Leontios and Tiberios III, returned the emperor to the obverse of their issues and put a simple cross on their reverses; when Justinian regained the throne in 705, he returned Christ to the obverse of his solidi, but with a much simplified, more linear rendering. Soon thereafter, iconoclasm became the dominant ideology of the ruling emperors, and religious imagery on Byzan­ tine coinage was again reduced to simple, often small crosses. A. M. Stahl

Marki 2006, 198–99, 225, no. 68, fig. 14, 162, pl. 68α. Bibliography Breckenridge 1959.

138. Gold Solidus of Justinian II (685–95 and 705–11) 692–95 Mint: Constantinople Gold Diam. 0.019 m., weight 4.46 gr. MIB 3, 8; DOC 2, Justinian II, 1st reign, 7c. Princeton, Princeton University Numismatic Collection 6188; purchase 2009 with funds from the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund Photo © Numismatic Collection, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Die axis 6 o’clock; uncirculated condition. Obverse legend: IhSChRISTDSREX REGNANTIUM [Jesus Christ Lord King of Those Reigning]; reverse legend: DIVSTINI AN USSERUChRISTI [Lord Justinian, Servant of Christ]. Until the reign of Justinian II, which went from 685 to 711 with the interruption of two usurpers, the image on the obverse of the coins had been the head of the emperor, usually in military dress, with symbolic religious images relegated to the coin’s reverse. Early in his reign, Justinian introduced this revolutionary new coin, which put Christ on the front and moved his own depiction to the reverse. The legends also reverse the priority of figures, with the obverse proclaiming “Jesus Christ, Lord, King of those Reigning,” whereas Justinian’s name appears on the reverse, with only the title of “Servant of Christ.” The issue of this coin, dated to 692 by current numismatic scholarship, had major political repercussions throughout the Mediterranean world. Within two years, the Islamic caliph Abd el-Malik introduced a reform that removed all imagery from Islamic gold and silver coins, a tradition that would last a millennium. In the west, the


139. Mummy Portrait of a Woman ca. 110 Encaustic on wood, remains of textile H. 0. 44 m., w. 0.189 m. Egypt, Faiyum, probably Hawara Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, 32.5 Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

This impressive mummy portrait is painted on a tall rectangular wooden panel. It is well preserved, and the few vertical fissures and remains of textiles and resin from the mummy wrappings do not detract from the overall brilliance of the painting. The corpus of mummy portraits from Roman Egypt is the most important and distinguished group of portrait paintings surviving from the classical world. Placed on the face of the deceased, each panel was bound into the mummy wrappings. Although called “Faiyum portraits” after the region where the majority of the examples were discovered, several of these mummy portraits were also found in Upper Egypt and places far in the north of Egypt, such as Marina el-Alamein on the Mediterranean coast. Today over a thousand mummy portraits are known, housed in private and public collections around the world; fewer than a hundred, however, are preserved with their original wrappings. These few examples show different types of body decoration: with rhombic patterns in the wrappings, with painted red shrouds (very rare), or completely layered with gilded stucco. By common understanding, mummy portraits came first into use during the reign of the emperor Tiberius (14–37), but it was only in the Claudian era (41–54) that they were more extensively produced. The lack of archaeological data for most of the portraits has made it necessary to rely on details of dress, hairstyles, and jewelry (which reflected the current fashion of the imperial court in Rome) to date them. This portrait of a younger woman is characterized by a complex arrangement of braids wound over the head with no hair bun as often seen. She wears a dark purple tunic decorated with black vertical stripes (clavi) and a mantle draped over her left shoulder. The face itself is dominated by the wide-open eyes under heavy brows and a rather small mouth, as well as a prominent chin. The unobtrusive elegance of this unnamed woman from the social elite of the Faiyum is further enhanced by her jewelry, the earrings and the necklace made of pearls, and emerald beads in alternating sequence. M. Seidel

Bibliography Parlasca 1966, 130 (43 a); Parlasca 1969, 59–60, no. 120; Drayman 1970, 3–4; Berger 1977, 209; Berger – Parlasca – Pintaudi 1985, 90–91; Duval 1989, 12, 20.


140. Mummy Portrait of a Bearded Man ca. 170 Encaustic on wood H. 0.387 m., w. 0.174 m. Egypt, Faiyum, probably er-Rubayat Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, 32.6 Photo © The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

This panel is slightly damaged at its upper edge, and two prominent vertical fissures are evident. The pigments, however, remain bright and fresh. Traces of fabric from the original mummy wrappings are visible on the panel’s sides and bottom. The first exhibition of mummy portraits, mounted in the late 1880s by the Viennese collector and art dealer Theodor Graf, presented material that had never been seen before to an astonished public. Suspicions about their authenticity were silenced some years later through two excavations conducted by the British archaeologist Flinders Petrie at Hawara in 1881 and 1911. At this site, the cemetery of the well-documented town of Arsinoë, a large quantity of mummies were discovered, with and without portrait panels. Petrie found that only a small percentage of all excavated mummies (not more than 2 percent) were equipped with such a painted portrait. Obviously only members of the local elite would have been able to afford to commission these for their burials. Mummy portraits join the long history of the ancient Egyptian burial practice of mummification with portrait painting from the Hellenistic tradition carried on into Roman times. The corpus of mummy portraits shows remarkable differences in their artistic quality, which are not necessarily indicative of their date. Traditionally the corpus is divided into two general groups according to the materials used to execute the portraits: encaustic and tempera. The technique of encaustic painting, a combination of beeswax with tinting pigments from minerals or vegetables, was particularly difficult to master and needed a highly skillful artist. Among the many varieties of wood used for the portrait panels, lime wood appeared to have been most widely used. It could be cut in extremely thin panels (ranging from 0.9 to 2 mm.), which could easily be curved over the mummy’s head when integrated into the wrappings. The wild, barely tamed hairstyle (and beard) with corkscrew locks fanning over the brows of the man represented in this mummy portrait is typical for the middle to late Antonine period, the era of the emperors Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius (161–180). The overall impressionistic elegance of the style is evident in the dynamic brushstrokes, which sketch the idea of a white tunic rather seeking to imitate the cloth. M. Seidel Bibliography Parlasca 1969, 81, no. 201; Drayman 1970, 3–4; Berger 1977, 171, 209; Thompson 1982, 13, pl. 18; Borg 1996, 79–80, 88 (16), pl. 27,2; Schulz – Seidel 2009, 170–171, no. 71.


141. Portrait of a Young Woman in Red 90–120 Encaustic, lime wood, gilding H. 0.381 m., w. 0.184 m. Found in Panopolis / Akhmim, Egypt New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1909  09.181.6 Photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY

The portrait is on a thin panel. There is some paint loss, and the gilding on the background and necklace has disappeared. Splits in the wood and subsequent cracks in the paint are present. The upper and lower edges were never painted. This mummy portrait depicts a young woman wearing a red tunic with a black clavus, a necklace, and earrings. She has curly black hair adorned with a gold wreath. Her large eyes, framed with thick eyelashes below and arched black brows above, gaze out from the portrait as if to engage the viewer directly. The corners of her lips are slightly lifted, which lends an even greater immediacy to the portrait. Originally the back­ ground was gilded, which would have provided luminosity to the painting, surrounding the woman’s face with light and suggesting that she inhabited an elevated or exalted position in her afterlife. The gold was added after the panel was inserted into the mummy wrappings; however, the unfinished edges indicate that the portrait was not made for any other purpose than to adorn her mummy. In Akhmim there was a tradition of cartonnage funerary masks that were placed on mummies or incorporated into coffins to serve as substitutions for the faces of the deceased in the afterlife. Greco-Roman portrait painting, which appeared in Egypt in the mid-1st century ad, provided a more naturalistic means of depicting the deceased, and painted panels were affixed to mummies in the Egyptian tradition. The portrait of the young woman in red was found as part of a family group with ten highquality painted funerary panels: three men, two younger women, an adolescent boy, and an elderly female, who may have been the mother of the three men. The panels, however, evince the hands of different painters and were likely executed over the span of a generation. The portrait of the young woman here has very thickly applied encaustic, which is unlike the other portraits in the set. The funerary portrait genre and its emphasis on creating the sense that the dead were present by providing visual foci for the living became important in the development of Christian icons. In particular, the large eyes and interactive gaze allowed the living to feel as though the deceased were accessible even in the afterlife. K. Marsengill

Bibliography Parlasca 1977, vol. 2, 43–44, no. 308; Berger – Parlasca – Pintaudi 1985, 114; Doxiadis 1995, 153–54, 162, pl. 97, 218–19; Borg 1996, 192; Walker 2000, 106–7, no. 66.


142. Piece of Fabric from a Coptic Tunic

143. Fragment of a Wall Mosaic

4th–5th century Linen H. 0.155 m., w. 0.16 m. Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum, ΒΧΜ 485 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

There are some damaged areas on the upper part of the item, and its left corner is missing. A roundel containing an embroidered bust of an angel with open wings is inscribed on a square of green linen. The angel stands out against the purple background of the roundel, depicted frontally, its head and gaze turned slightly to its right. The angel wears a white tunic embellished at the neck and on the chest and a green himation with a border falling freely over the shoulders. Outside the roundel, in the corners of the textile fragment, stylized white flowers edged in brown stand out against a green ground. The idealized beauty of the angel’s head on the long neck, the slight turn to the side, and the aristocratic nature of the figure attest to strong influence from Hellenistic heritage and date the textile from the 4th to the 5th century. It is worth mentioning that this type of work—(wool?) embroidery on linen fabric—is rather rare in Coptic art. E. Papastavrou Bibliography Sotiriou 1931, 112; Apostolaki 1932, 179–80, fig. 152.


6th century Stone and glass tesserae H. 0.095 m., w. 0.105 m. Found in the Basilica of Bishop Peter in Nea Anchialos Nea Anchialos, Archaeological Collection of Phthiotic Thebes, Μ 2575 Photo © Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Fragment of a wall mosaic with a partially preserved face, probably of a saint. All that remains of the face are the eyes and eyebrows, part of the forehead, and part of the nose. Most of the stone tesserae used are white, ochre, and a purplish color, but some dark-colored glass paste has been used for the eyebrows, the eyelids, and the pupils. A. Dina Bibliography Lazaridis 1979, 56–58, pl. 41α; Dina 2004, 59, pl. 19α.

144. Part of an Icon of Christ 6th–7th century Encaustic on wood H. 0.145 m., w. 0.36 m., thickness 0.009 m. From Egypt; acquired in Egypt, 1936 Athens, Benaki Museum, 8953 Photo © 2011 Benaki Museum, Athens

Half of the icon has been preserved, representing the upper part of a head of Christ, probably originally depicted in bust form. The image is executed in encaustic technique, in which wax is used as the binding medium for the pigments. The surviving part is in average condition, with flaking in some parts and loss of the paint layer covering the wooden support. Two holes in the upper corners of the work indicated that it was intended to be attached to a frame or some other support. The existence of frames on early panel paintings is attested in surviving examples, not just of Christian images but also of pagan ones, which seem to have used similar production techniques to a large extent. All that survives of the face of Christ are the hair, the large eyes shaded by heavy brows, and the nose to just above the nostrils. Black paint was used for the hair, the eyebrows, and the outlines; the flesh is white, but the eyelids and the nose are shaded with an orange hue combined with brown. Christ’s head is surrounded by a cruciform halo inscribed with a cross. The ground is blue and has a dedicatory inscription in white capital letters on either side of the figure, which reads “Emmanuel with us” in Greek on the left; on right the Coptic inscription has been read as “Brother Timotheos remember him before God twofold.” Based on the reading of the inscription, we can assume that the icon was a votive offering.

This partially preserved icon belonging to the Benaki Museum is one of the very few examples of extant early Christian icons outside the collection of St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai. Unfortunately, the fragmentary condition of the work does not allow us to draw any firm conclusions about the iconographical type of Christ represented. However, it is worth noting the features, which are characteristic of all icons of this period: the large, wide-open eyes and the relatively low forehead, which is typical of other youthful figures in early icons, such as Sts. Sergios and Bakchos or St. John (?) in a roundel above a portrait of St. Peter, both works belonging to St. Catherine’s Sinai. The encaustic technique used on several of these icons is known from earlier Greco-Roman paintings, as well as from funerary portraits from Roman Egypt. The need for speed of execution in painting with wax gives the pictures a pulsating liveliness and intensity, which is evident even on the damaged face of Christ on the Benaki icon. A. Drandaki Bibliography Chatzidakis 1967, fig. 19; Corrigan 2010. On technical and stylistic issues regarding early icons, both pagan and Christian, see Mathews 2006, 39–55 (with earlier bibliography).


abbreviations AAA

Archaiologika Analekta ex Athenon


Archaeologikon Deltion


Archaeologiko Ergo ste Makedonia kai Thrake


Archaiologike Ephemeris


The Athenian Agora. Results of Excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens


American Journal of Archaeology


American Journal of Philology


Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung


Antike und Christentum


L’antiquité classique


Antike Kunst


Antike Plastik


Antiquité tardive. Revue internationale d’histoire et d’archéologie


Archeologia Classica


The Art Bulletin


Annuario della Scuola archeologica di Atene e delle Missioni italiane in Oriente


Bulletin antieke beschaving. Annual Papers on Classical Archaeology


Bayerische Vorgeschichtsblätter


The Walters Art Gallery Bulletin


Bulletin de correspondance hellénique


The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art


The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin


Bulletin de l’association internationale pour l’étude de la mosaïque antique


Byzantinische Forschungen


Byzantinische Zeitschrift

DChAE Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Hetaireias DOC Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in theWhittemore Collection, I–V. Washington D.C. 1966–99. DOP

Dumbarton Oaks Papers




Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Institutes in Wien

Ergon To Ergon tes en Athenais Archaiologikes Hetaireias


Papers of the British School at Rome


Folia archaeologica


Patrologia Graeca, ed. J.-P. Migne. Paris 1857–1912.


The Greek Orthodox Theological Review

PraktArchEt Praktika tes en Athenais Archaeologikes Hetaireias


Hermes, Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie


Inscriptiones Graecae


Istanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri Yιllιğι


Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum


Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts


Journal of Early Christian Studies


The Journal of Religion


Journal of Roman Studies


The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery


Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes

LGPN I, 1987

RIC 7 P. M. Bruun, The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. 7. Constantine and Licinius AD 313–337. London 1966.

A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names I, The Aegean Islands, Cyprus, Cyrenaica, eds. P. M. Fraser –  E. Matthews. Oxford 1987.


Revue du Louvre. La Revue des musées de France


A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names IIIB, Central Greece from the Megarid to Thessaly, eds. P. M. Fraser – E. Matthews – R.W.V. Catling et al. Oxford 2000.


Römische Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts. Athener Abteilung


Travaux et Mémoires


Vetera Christianorum


Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae. Zürich – München 1981–99.


Catalogue of Late Roman Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. Washington D.C. 1992.

LSJ, Rev. Suppl. 1996

H.G. Liddell – R. Scott – H. St. Jonson, Greek-English Lexicon, Revised Supplement, ed. P.G.W. Glare. Oxford 1996.


Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua. Publications of the American Society for Archaeological Research in Asia Minor


Mélanges de l’école française de Rome. Antiquité


Metropolitan Museum Journal


Moneta Imperii Byzantini, I–III. Wien 1973–81.


Nuovo Didaskaleion: Studi di letteratura e storia cristiana antica


Numismatische Zeitschrift


Orientalia Christiana Periodica


Epigraphica Anatolica


Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum


Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana


Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst


Revue des études grecques


Rivista dell’Istituto nazionale di archeologia e storia dell’arte

RIC 6 C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. 6. From Diocletian’s Reform (AD 294) to the death of Maxentius (AD 313). London 1967.

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Photography Credits for Entries The copyright for all photographs reproduced in the catalogue section of this book are held by the institutions that supplied the photographs, as indicated in the catalogue entries. Where the Hellenic Ministry of Culture is credited, the copyright is held by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Tourism – Archaeological Receipts Fund. Additional credits are listed below: Christos Galazios (cat. nos. 1–3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 22–30, 35, 36, 41–50, 52–54, 56, 58, 61–74, 76–79, 84–90, 92, 94, 95, 98–101, 103–105, 107, 108, 110–117, 120–123, 126, 127, 136, 142–144) Orestis Kourakis (cat. nos. 9, 11, 13, 31, 33, 34, 37, 38, 81–83, 96, 97, 102, 118, 124, 125, 128–132, 137) Bruce M. White (cat. nos. 4, 32, 91, 93, 119)


Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity,3rd – 7th Century AD  
Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity,3rd – 7th Century AD  

Introductory essay by Peter Brown, and essays by Fabrizio Bisconti, Kimberly Bowes, Averil Cameron, Slobodan Ćurčić, Jaś Elsner, Henry Magui...