Oldest depiction of Jesus and the Crucifixion is found in Greek Orthodox St. Catherine Monastery, Egypt

The oldest icon of the Jesus Christ and the Crucifixion, St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt, 8th Century.

The oldest icon of the Crucifixion of Christ is located in the Greek Orthodox Holy Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai in Egypt and reveals the proximity to the Greco-Roman art heritage!

The oldest icon of the Jesus Christ and the Crucifixion, St Catherine's Monastery, Sinai, Egypt, 8th Century.
The oldest icon of the Jesus Christ and the Crucifixion, St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt, 8th Century.

It is about a very rare and important icon that survived from the so-called “dark ages” of Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).

It is the oldest depiction of Jesus Christ, with a crown of thorns and the names of the two crucified robbers “Gestas” and “Dimas” are written, known from the New Testament.

As we know, the early Byzantine and post-Byzantine paintings continue the Hellenistic and Roman tradition and style of mural painting.

The oldest preserved icons of St. Catherine’s collection in Sinai date back to the 6th century and are directly related to the Egyptian portraits of the dead in wood (Fayum mummy portraits) and are similarly close to the Greco-Roman heritage, especially with the frescoes of Pompeii.

A Fayum portrait. Fayum mummy portraits are a type of naturalistic painted portrait on wooden boards attached to upper class mummies from Roman Egypt. They belong to the tradition of panel painting, one of the most highly regarded forms of art in the Classical world. The Fayum portraits are the only large body of art from that tradition to have survived.

Characteristic of these idealised portraits are the large expressive eyes, the elongated nose, the small mouth, the impressive colors and the larger volume of the figures, which also strongly resembles the naturalistic Hellenistic mosaics.

Ancient Roman mosaic of Apollo, from the archaeological site of Old Paphos, Cyprus.
Ancient Roman mosaic of Apollo, from the archaeological site of Old Paphos, Cyprus.

By Dimosthenis Vasiloudis for The Archeologist.

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Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor

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