of lovers.11 And although many of these objects were found in tombs, their evident mass production and widespread dissemination may suggest that they were in daily use.

At the other end of the spectrum from funerary art or modest personal artefacts is the mid-third-century Christian house church discovered at Dura Europos in eastern Syria, which contains an extensively decorated room used for baptism (see fig. 6, above, p. 414). Other evidence of pre-Constantinian church building outside of Rome exists. A fifth-century octagonal church building at Capernaum was built over an existing domestic structure, believed to have been an early house church located in St Peter's house. A double church building at Aquileia incorporates an oratory that might be dated to the reign of bishop Theodore (308-19). Documents mentioning the existence of Christian church structures, books and furnishings in various parts of the Roman empire offer further evidence of growing Christian communities in the mid- to late third century, that had a relative degree of security, wealth and permanence, and had moved from modest gatherings in homes to larger crowds in imposing edifices. For example, Porphyry complains: 'But the Christians, imitating the construction of temples, erect great buildings in which they meet to pray, though there is nothing to prevent them from doing this in their own homes.'12

Nevertheless, the most extensive collection of early and identifiably Christian artefacts are the paintings in the Roman catacombs, and ofthose the oldest are in the Catacomb of Callistus on the ancient Via Appia, an early Christian necropolis dated to the first decade of the third century. Other early Christian Roman catacombs include those of Sebastian, Domitilla and Priscilla, all providing material evidence of early Christian culture. These catacombs contained small family burial chambers (cubicula) with paintings on their walls and ceilings, often divided into fields and registers by lines and decorative frames. In addition to these, however, are examples of carved plaques used to cover the horizontal graves (loculi) cut into the gallery walls, a few rare mosaics and a considerable number of carved stone sarcophagi. In addition to wall paintings and relief carvings are a small but significant group of sculptures in the round. All of these objects have been identified as belonging to a Christian milieu, either by their content or by their placement within a larger programme ofChristian imagery. Not all ofthe iconography, however, is uniquely Christian in its themes and its style, and in technique it closely parallels the

11 Clem. Al. Paed. 11; cf. Tert. Pud. 7.1-4; i0f (on shepherd cups).

12 Porph. Christ. frag. 76, trans. White, Social origins of Christian architecture, vol. ii, 104; cf. Euseb. HE 8.1-2.

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