Type: Baptisteries, Baptismal fonts
Date: Fifth or sixth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Israel
Description: On their way to St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, early Christian pilgrims may have stopped at the town of Shivta in the Negev Desert. During its fifth- to sixth-century peak, Shivta had three churches. It was later abandoned in the early ninth century, possibly because of combined environmental, economic, and sociopolitical factors. The baptistery of the northern church, which was part of a large monastery, has a cross-shaped stone-cut baptismal font with steps leading into it. The baptistery chamber also preserves traces of painted decoration, now badly eroded. Above the font, there may have been a depiction of John the Baptist baptizing a youthful Christ with short, curly hair.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 2
Repository and Online Resources: • Read about the discovery of early Christian paintings in the ruins of Shivta's churches. • Shivta is one of four towns linked together on an incense and spice route that is part of UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Access to the sacred, Christian, Bible, Monasticism, Western Asian, Byzantine, Late Antique, Mediterranean