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Graffiti carved on an ancient Roman building some 1,900 years ago could be of the Crucifixion

It is said to be the earliest and only known image of the Crucifixion – a depiction of human-like figure with the head of a donkey nailed to a cross.

The anti-Christian ‘graffito’ was etched into a plaster wall of an imperial training school for ancient Roman slaves between 50AD and 250AD.

Beneath the cross is ancient Greek text that reads, ‘Alexamenos worships God,’ as a way to mock an individual in the drawing who appears to be dressed like a slave.

Another room in the excavated building was found with the inscription ‘Alexamenos is faithful,’ which could either be another dig at the individual or someone coming to his aid.

The ancient graffiti was done during a time that Christianity was frowned upon by Romans who practiced paganism, which believed is what led them to power, but it is not confirmed that the image is of Jesus Christ.

It is said to be the earliest and only known image of the Crucifixion – a depiction of human-like figure with the head of a donkey nailed to a cross. The anti-Christian ‘graffito’ was etched into a plaster wall of an imperial training school for ancient Roman slaves between 50AD and 250AD

Archaeologists discovered the image in 1857 on the wall of a building located on Rome’s Palatine Hill, but the anti-Christian graffiti was brought to light by archeologist Ticia Verveer.

At the time, it was said Romans depicted Jesus as a donkey as a way of insulting the faith.

Tertullian, a Christian theologian who lived from 160AD to 225AD, wrote of how both Christians and Jews were ridiculed by Romans for worshiping a donkey.

‘In this matter we are (said to be) guilty not merely of forsaking the religion of the community, but of introducing a monstrous superstition; for some among you have dreamed that our god is an ass’s head,’ the ancient inscription reads. 

Beneath the cross is ancient Greek text that reads, 'Alexamenos worships God,' as a way to mock an individual in the drawing who appears to be dressed like a slave

Beneath the cross is ancient Greek text that reads, ‘Alexamenos worships God,’ as a way to mock an individual in the drawing who appears to be dressed like a slave

Another crucifixion graffito was discovered by archaeologists excavating a Roman colony in Pozzuoli that was once known as Puteoli. The image was discovered etched in the wall of a Tabernae, a type of shop or stall in ancient Roma, by a team in 1959.

Another crucifixion graffito was discovered by archaeologists excavating a Roman colony in Pozzuoli that was once known as Puteoli. The image was discovered etched in the wall of a Tabernae, a type of shop or stall in ancient Roma, by a team in 1959.

‘Suppose that our God, then, be an asinine person, will you at all events deny that you possess the same characteristics with ourselves in that matter? 

‘Not their heads only, but entire asses, are, to be sure, objects of adoration to you.’

Although some suggest the image is of Jesus nailed to the cross, no evidence has been uncovered to confirm the idea.

Another crucifixion graffito was discovered by archaeologists excavating a Roman colony in Pozzuoli that was once known as Puteoli.

The image was discovered etched in the wall of a Tabernae, a type of shop or stall in ancient Roma, by a team in 1959.

This image provides more detail than the previous, as it bears the name 'Alkimilla' and includes markings on the body that suggests the woman was whipped

This image provides more detail than the previous, as it bears the name ‘Alkimilla’ and includes markings on the body that suggests the woman was whipped

A total of eight Tabernae were discovered, but Tabernae 5 was found vandalized with a carving of a woman nailed to a cross.

The cross is 40 cm high, the cross-piece is 26 cm long, and the figure is 35 cm high.

It is believed to have been made during the reign of Trajan or Hadrian some 1,900 years ago.

However, this image provides more detail than the previous, as it bears the name ‘Alkimilla’ and includes markings on the body that suggests the woman was whipped.

Romans had much disdain for Christians, as they believed it was more of a revolution than a practicing faith and thought failures in the empire were due to their practices.

For example, a fire destroyed much of Rome in 64AD, and, in order to escape blame, the emperor Nero murdered a ‘vast multitude’ of Christians as scapegoats.

Then in the 3rd century, ancient Rome’s economy collapsed, there was political chaos, militaries revolted, and a barbarian invasion nearly destroyed the world power – and Christians were again blamed.

Romans believed it was the Christian’s denial of the gods that were thought to protect Rome is what led it to nearly fall. 

And to regain that divine protection, emperors introduced the systematic persecution of Christians throughout the Roman empire.




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