Collection online

Good Shepherd

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Good Shepherd
  • Description

    Sculpted figure of a Kriophoros or "Good Shepherd"; carved from white marble with extensive orange veining; depicts a beardless youth with short curly hair wearing a short belted tunic with loose elbow-length sleeves, the tunic falling below the belt in a series of V-shaped folds, holding over his shoulders a fat-tailed ram, clasping the fore and hind legs with his right hand; left hand broken and missing; columnar plinth at the back; circular hole drilled through the columnar plinth to the mouth for a water drain-pipe; missing the lower legs which presumably depicted the boots of the statue; face worn; surfaces lightly abraded.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 3rdC-4thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 61 centimetres
    • Width: 39.5 centimetres
    • Thickness: 16.5 centimetres
    • Height: 74.5 centimetres (with stone base)
    • Width: 35 centimetres (of stone base)
    • Thickness: 25 centimetres (with stone base)
    • Weight: 63 kilograms (including base)
  • Curator's comments

    This type of sculpture is more commonly found in the Levant (e.g. cf. example from al-Minah near Gaza illustrated in A. Negev, ed., 'Archaeological Encyclopaedia of the Holy Land', p. 122) but a second example is also attested from the Persian Gulf, namely a smaller sculpture, apparently carved from basalt or another dark stone, which appears to have been found in Bahrain during or prior to the 1970s and which was then in the private collection of HRH Shaikha Haya al-Khalifa (personal observation, St J. Simpson). It represents a syncronism of Christ as the "Good Shepherd" with the much earlier Classical iconography of Hermes Kriophoros as the "ram-bearer" and guardian of shepherds and their flocks. During the 3rd - beginning of the 5th centuries AD these figures were occasionally used as grave-markers or in baptisteries (as at Dura), but were most commonly depicted on wall-paintings in the Catacombs at Rome (where over 120 such representations are attested) and on mosaics, sarcophagi, lamps and statuettes. The present object presumably derives from a church or monastery of the same period, although conceivably the statue may have been imported in antiquity from North Syria. An identical sculpture is held in the Hermitage, St Petersburg.No correspondence found relating to this (or any other) piece in the ANE 1918/19 Correspondence files under Wilson.


  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2014 5 Jun-2 Nov, UK, Waddesdon Manor, 'Predators and Prey: A Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel'
    1998- Sept-, BM, G88

  • Condition

    Missing lower legs; face worn; surfaces lightly abraded.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Deposited on the behalf of Colonel A.T. Wilson by Captain Ashton of the Political Department, on or after 6 December 1919, and entered in the deposit book as a "marble bust [later annotated as "Kriophoros"] of shepherd and lamb". Reported in the BM Return for 1920 (p. 52) as "White marble kriophoros figure. From the ruins of the old city of Zubêr near Basrah. Presented by Col. A.T. Wilson, C.S.I., C.M.G.". Registered as "Coarse marble figure of a Kriophoros: boy, short-haired, in girded chiton, holding a ram on his shoulders behind his head by the fore and hind legs. Plinth at back. Hole through plinth and head to mouth for a water-pipe. Zubeir, near Basrah. Roman period".

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number



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