Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 19 September |
Our Lady of La Salette
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

This early depiction of Christ Pantocrator was saved from treasure hunters


Public Domain

J-P Mauro - published on 05/07/21

The Christ Pantocrator was developed by the early Church as a teaching tool to inspire faith.

A rare ancient medallion featuring an early image of Jesus Christ is on special display at Turkey’s Çorum Museum. It is considered one of the most precious artifacts in Çorum’s collection, as it is the only depiction of Christ Pantocrator ever discovered on ancient jewelry.

Christ Pantocrator is a Greek term meaning “almighty” or “all-powerful.” In iconography it refers to the popular depiction of Christ holding the Bible in His left hand and giving a blessing with His right. Christ Pantocrator is one of the first images of Christdeveloped by the early Church

The oldest known example of Christ Pantocrator is an icon from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai, dated to the 6th century. The medallion, however, is at least as old as the icon, dated at 1,500 years old.

Recovered from thieves

Daily Sabah reports that the medallion was discovered by treasure hunters while conducting an illegal dig in 2017. Luckily, authorities discovered the archaeological heist and seized the medallion in an anti-smuggling operation. Today it is a prized piece of the Çorum Museum collection. 

In an interview provided by Daily Sabah, Resul Ibiş, an archaeologist from Çorum Museum, said of the artifact: 

“… This depiction, which we usually see in churches, icons and mosaics, is for the first time on a gold medallion, engraved in najaf stone – a kind of crystallized quartz – on a gold filigree.”

The small medallion displays incredible detail in the gold work. Around the image of Christ is fantastic gold etching that creates a tightly-knit chain link, which is in turn surrounded by a similar braided etching. As though by design, the stone image of Christ bears a crack that perfectly avoids marring the face

The medallion is now believed to be one of the oldest depictions of the Christ Pantocrator. Ibiş noted that such depictions became popular in the 4th and 5th centuries.

ArtCatholicismChurch History

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.