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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits
in Europe

The crucifixion

Height: 7.500 cm
Width: 9.800 cm

The crucifixion of Christ

From: Rome, Italy
Date: AD 420-30

This is the earliest surviving picture of the story of the crucifixion. Jesus is on the right on the cross. On the left the corpse of Judas swings from the tree where he hanged himself. The bag of gold coins that he got for betraying Jesus lie under his feet. Judas looks limp and sad, but Jesus is strong and triumphant in death. On the right the Roman soldier Longinus has just pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, releasing him from his suffering. Mary and John mourn in the centre.

The carving was one side of an ivory box, but it has become separated from the other sides.