Pottery, Pavements, and Paradise

Iconographic and Textual Studies on Late Antiquity


These essays on late antiquity traverse a territory in which Christian and pagan imagery and practices compete, coexist, and intermingle. The iconography of the most significant late antique ceramic, African Red Slip Ware, is an important and relatively unexploited vehicle for documenting the diversity and interpenetration of late antique cultures. Literary texts and art in other media, particularly mosaics, provide imagery that complement and enhance the messages of the ceramics. Popular entertainments, pagan cults, mythic heroes, beasts, monsters, and biblical visions are themes dealt with on the patrician and popular levels. With interpretive supplements from these diverse realms, it is possible to achieve greater insight into the life, attitudes, and thought of Late Antiquity.
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Biographical Note

Annewies van den Hoek, Ph.D (1988), is lecturer in Jewish and Early Christian Greek at Harvard Divinity School. Among her works are a monograph on Clement of Alexandria and Philo (Brill, 1988) and a Greek text edition of Stromateis IV in Sources Chrétiennes (Cerf, 2001). John J. Herrmann, Jr., Ph.D. (1973), is Curator of Classical Art Emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His articles, books, and contributions to exhibition catalogues range through Greek, Roman, and Early Christian art and architectural decoration.

Review Quote

"... series of highly interesting and original articles that attempt to explicate the theological significance of [...] images produced in the Roman empire at the beginning of the Christian era. [...] The authors' methodology typically combines a skillful review of literary sources with a wide-ranging survey of the pictorial images of late antiquity. The results are often enlightening and the essays are a pleasure to read." – Jeffrey Spier, University of Arizona, in: Journal of Roman Archaeology 27 (2014) "Der große Verdienst der hier versammelten Texte liegt darin, dieses häufig vernachlässigte Bildmedium zur Erforschung der spätantiken Kunstgeschichte zu nutzen." – Armin Bergmeier, München, in: Theologische Literaturzeitung 140 (2015)

Table of contents

I. Paulinus of Nola, Courtyards, and Canthari: A Second Look II. Thecla the Beast Fighter: A Female Emblem of Deliverance in Early Christian Popular Art III. “Two Men in White:” Observations on an Early Christian Lamp from North Africa with the Ascension of Christ IV. Anicius Auchenius Bassus, African Red Slip Ware, and the Church V. The Sphinx: An Egyptian Theological Symbol in Clement of Alexandria VI. Clement of Alexandria, Acrobats, and the Elite VII. Celsus’ Competing Heroes: Jonah, Daniel, and their Rivals VIII. Divine Twins or Saintly Twins: The Dioscuri in an Early Christian Context IX. The Saga of Peter and Paul: Emblems of Catholic Identity in Christian Literature and Art X. Apocalyptic Themes in the Monumental and Minor Art of Early Christianity XI. Odysseus Wanders into Late Antiquity XII. Execution as Entertainment: The Roman Context of Martyrdom


Academic libraries; scholars, students, and all interested in Early Christian writings, religious history, art history, and iconography of late Antiquity. Scholars interested in popular and provincial art, especially mosaics and North African ceramics (ARS).