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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.

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