Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roman Archaeologists Find Oldest Images of Apostles in a Catacomb

Reuters reports (22 June):
Archaeologists and art restorers using new laser technology have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ’s Apostles. The images in a branch of the catacombs of St Tecla near St Paul’s Basilica, just outside the walls of ancient Rome, were painted at the end of the 4th century or the start of the 5th century.

Archaeologists believe these images may have been among those that most influenced later artists’ depictions of the faces of Christ’s most important early followers. “These are the first images that we know of the faces of these four Apostles,” said Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, the head of archaeology for Rome’s numerous catacombs, which are owned and maintained by the Vatican.

Images and more here.


  1. Debate is raging over whether these can properly be called icons. If so, they were the very first ones ever painted, according to the superintendent of archaeology for the catacombs.
    "They are the first icons. These are absolutely the first representations of the apostles," said Fabrizio Bisconti.