'Beardless Jesus' found in Spain

  • 3 October 2014
Ancient plate Image copyright FORVM MMX

Archaeologists in Spain say they have found one of the world's earliest known images of Jesus. It is engraved on a glass plate dating back to the 4th Century AD, reports from Spain say.

The plate is believed to have been used to hold Eucharistic bread as it was consecrated in early Christian rituals. It measures 22cm in diameter and fragments of it were unearthed outside the southern Spanish city of Linares, ABC newspaper reports.

Scientists working for the FORVM MMX project found it inside a building used for religious worship in what remains of the ancient town of Castulo. The find made scientists "review the chronology of early Christianity in Spain", FORVM MMX project director Marcelo Castro told El Mundo newspaper.

The pieces were in an excellent state of preservation - 81% of its original area has now been pieced together by scientists.

Image copyright FORVM MMX

In the image, Jesus Christ is flanked by two apostles, believed to be Peter and Paul. "The scene takes place in the celestial orb, framed between two palm trees, which in Christian iconography represent immortality, the afterlife and heaven, among other things," ABC writes.

El Mundo notes that Christ looks very different from later depictions: he has no beard, his hair is not too long and he is wearing a philosopher's toga.

Image copyright FORVM MMX
Image caption A reconstruction of images on the plate

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