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Chapter Summary

The primary visual images for Christians of the Roman Empire after Constantine were simple symbols of religious identity: the monogram of Christ or the cross. Sophisticated narrative art illustrating stories of the Bible also presents unambiguous declarations of Christian identity. Mosaics and frescoes are heavily used in art-historical studies, but African Red Slip Ware (ARS) and a related product, African lamps, have been a much less exploited source for late antique imagery. The main phase of figural relief decoration on ARS, about 350-430ce, provides insight into Christian art of the time of the Roman catacombs and pagan art in some of its latest manifestations. The presence of pagan imagery on these lamps provides interesting metrics on the survival of such themes in a Christianized world. Biblical, non-biblical, Judeo-Christian, mythic, and secular themes may appear on ARS, and on occasion peculiarly North African texts lie behind the imagery.

Keywords: African red slip ware (ARS); Christianized world; pagan imagery; religious identity; Roman Empire



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