A 1,500-year-old painting of the face of Jesus Christ has been discovered in southern Israel’s Negev desert.
Scientists found the image after uncovering an old church in the ancient Byzantine village of Shivta, according to a study published in the journal Antiquity.
“A previously unknown painting of Christ’s face recently discovered at the Byzantine site of Shivta, represents the first pre-iconoclastic baptism-of-Christ scene to be found in the Holy Land,” according to the abstract in the study.
The researchers estimate it was painted in the sixth century AD.
Jesus’ face in this painting is described in the journal as a significant discovery.
It belongs to the symbolic art of the young, short-haired Christ, which was especially widespread in Egypt and Syro-Palestine, but disappeared from later Byzantine art.
Early sixth century scripts include debate concerning the authenticity of Christ’s visual appearance, including his hairstyle.
The painting is dated before the presence of religious symbolic art often used in the Orthodox Christian Church, and researchers confirmed it is the only baptism-of-Christ scene to date in the Holy Land.