Intaglio; carnelian; Crucifixion; centre, upon exergual line, nude figure of Christ, facing, head and feet turned right; behind is T-shaped cross, beneath which the arms extend without any means of attachment; on each side stand six small draped figures representing the twelve apostles; inscription damaged.
- Found/Acquired: Constanţa
- (Europe,Balkans,Romania,Constanţa (county),Constanţa)
- Length: 0.54 inches
Inscription Translation[J(esus) Ch(rist)] S(on) [of G(od)] S(aviour)
Text from Dalton 1915, Catalogue of Engraved Gems:
C.H. Smith, "The Crucifixion on a Greek gem", Annual of the British School at Athens, 1896-7, figure on p. 202 (discussed on pp. 202-6).
A very early example of this subject. Cf. a gem with Crucifixion in Garrucci, Storia dell' arte cristiana, pl. 479, fig. 15; a green jasper, in the Collection at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, see Middleton, The Lewis Collection of Gems and Rings, &c., Class E, no. 1, p. 84, Cambridge, 1892; the ivory-carving, E.C. Cat. no. 291, and the panel of the doors of St. Sabina, Rome, see Wiegand, Das alterchristliche Hauptportal an der Kirche der heligen Sabina, pl. iv, Trier, 1900. Other examples of the Crucifixion treated in a primitive manner may be seen on a gem of Gnostic type, in the British Museum (Dept. of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities, no. G. 231); an amulet from Egypt in the Biblioteque Nationale, Paris (Cabinet des Médailles), Fig. Schlumberger, Byz. Zeitschr. , 1893, p. 188 (sixth or seventh century); on a Monza Ampulla (cf. Garrucci, Storia, pl. 434, 4); and on objects from Akhmim (Panopolis) (Forrer and Müller, Kreuz und Kreuzigung Christi in ihrer Kunstentwicklung, pp. 16 ff. Strasburg, 1894). The primitive type is also perpetuated on a silver dish from Syria, see Smirnoff, 'A Syrian Silver Dish from Perm', in Materials for Russian Archaeology no. 22 (St. Petersburg, 1899)
For a review of the earliest known representaions of the Crucifixtion in art, see H. Leclerq, Manuel d'archéologie chrétienne, ii, pp. 368 ff. ; and Bela Lazar, Die beiden Wurzeln der Kruzifixdarstellung, Strasburg, 1912 (Zur Kunstgeschichte des Auslandes, Heft 98), where the present gem is reproduced in Plate ii, fig. 3.
The British Museum Gnostic gem no. G. 231 is now in the Department of Prehistory and Europe OA 9717, published in Michel 2001, cat. no. 458.
DACL, Paris, 1924, col 816, no 52, fig 4943.
See also: F. Harley-Mcgowan, 'The Constanza carnelian and the development of crucifixion iconography in Late Antiquity', in C. Entwistle and N. Adams (eds), 'These the gems of heaven': recent research on engraved gemstones in Late Antiquity, AD 200-600, forthcoming 2011.
Not on display
2007 18 Nov-2008 30 Mar, USA, Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, Picturing the Bible: The Earliest Christian Art
Britain, Europe and Prehistory
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Object reference number: MCB4145
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