Artifact With Picture of Short-Haired, Clean-Shaven Jesus Christ Found In Spain

A picture of Jesus Christ, with short hair and no beard, has been found and identified recently.

GMA News is reporting an archeological dig in Linares, Spain, found pieces of a glass paten (a plate on which the body of Christ was served).

The team found numerous fragments of glass during a three-year dig in the ruined ancient city of Castulo and in July dug up some bigger bits with designs that caught their eye.

When pieced together, the shards formed a plate dating to the fourth century AD with an engraving of Christ in a Roman-style toga, neatly groomed.

The researchers identified the item as a paten. They pieced together more than 80 percent of the plate, which measured 22 centimeters (about 8.5 inches) in diameter.

It went on display this month in a museum in the southeastern Spanish town of Linares.

The leader of the dig, Marcelo Castro, hailed the finding as "an exceptional archaeological document".

Three haloed figures are engraved on it, with Christ himself in the middle, holding a cross and a Bible, flanked by two men thought to be the apostles Peter and Paul. Experts say Christ's lack of beard and short curly hair in the engraving are very rare traits in historic depictions of him.

The Deccan Chronicle is reporting that leader Castro said it was a relic of a key early period in church history, just after the Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity.

Previously Christians had worshipped in secret and produced few sacred images of Christ for fear of persecution under the Romans.

The Roman style of the paten was "present in the first moments" of Christianity post-Constantine but was "discarded later on in favour of other ways of depicting Christ", Castro said.

The team of archaeologists believe the plate was made in the Ostia glasswork district of ancient Rome.

Other rare examples of similar early Christian art are held in Paris's Louvre Museum and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, he said.

"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," said Castro.

"We were wary about presenting the paten as a 4th century piece in case it clashed with previous studies into the chronology of Christianity in Spain," Castro said. "We know it dates back to the 4th century, in part because popes in the following centuries ordered all patens to be made out of silver," Castro added.