Archaeologists Find Oldest Painting of the Apostles in Roman Catacombs
by Teresa Neumann : Jun 23, 2010 : Staff – Reuters
"This is a very important discovery in the history of the early Christian communities of Rome."
(Rome, Italy)—Archaeologists believe that 1500 year-old images found in a section of the catacombs of St. Tecla near St. Paul’s Basilica, that have been recently restored, may have been among those that most influenced later artists’ depictions of the faces of Christ’s most important early followers. (Photo: Images found in branch of catacombs of St. Tecla near St. Paul’s Basilica/Globe And Mail)
"These are the first images that we know of the faces of these four apostles," said Professor Fabrizio Bisconti, the head of archaeology for Rome’s catacombs. "This is a very important discovery in the history of the early Christian communities of Rome."
The images consist of four circles depicting the apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew and John, on the ceiling of the burial place of a noblewoman believed to have converted to Christianity.
The use of lasers as an "optical scalpel" allowed restorers to reveal with "stunning clarity" images that up until then were blurry. According to the report, the wrinkles on St. Paul’s forehead, for example, are clear and the whiteness of St. Peter’s beard has re-emerged.
"It was very, very emotional to discover this," said Barbara Mazzei, head of the project.
The report noted as well that other scenes from the Bible, such as Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead or Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, are now also much clearer and brighter. [http://www.archaeologynews.org/story.asp?ID=623655&Title=Archaeologists%20find%20oldest%20paintings%20of%20apostles]