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 Museum Explorer

Birds and beasts
in Europe

Jonah and the whale

Length: 192.000 cm

P&E MLA 1957,10-11,1

Jonah and the whale

Probably from: Italy (Roman)
Date: about AD 260-300

The stone mason who carved this stone coffin (called a sarcophagus) had never seen a whale. So when he was asked to carve the Bible story of Jonah and the whale, the mason used his imagination and decided that a whale must look like a giant sea snake.

The person lying down is Jonah and around him are scenes from the story. He was thrown into the sea from a ship by some sailors because they thought he caused a storm. Have a look in the picture for: the ship that Jonah was on, the whale that swallowed him, and the whale spitting him out on dry land.