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Lecture 2

VISA-3027 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Cubiculum, A Place To Bury Strangers, Catacombs

Visual Culture - Art
Course Code
Heather Coffey

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VISA 3027: Medieval Art & Architecture
2. Constantine's Legacy
(Slide 1) Back to the Catacombs & Constantine's Legacy
(Slide 2) Fractio Panis, Cubiculum of Priscilla, 3rd century CE
Day of entombment by his or her family, 90 days after death
This fresco shows 7 individuals eating a meal
Whether this reflects a refrigurial
o Refriguiral is under a grave
o Catacomb
Fresco's name is given by art historian and it's in the cubiculum of Priscilla
o A catacomb of Priscilla
o Fractio Panis means breaking of the bread
Does this moment allude to a conventional moment or does this (so early 200) represent
a moment in the formation of Christian doctorate?
o Does this represent something establish by early Christian church (regular part of
Is this a family for a dead one or an assembly of group to worship someone?
o The main focus of Christian text: (transfixiation) breaking bread and sharing wine
before Jesus's crucifixion, bread transform into the body of Christ and wine
transform the blood of Christ (euchres - bread transformed)
(Slide 3) Cubiculum of Leonis, Catacomb of commodilla, near Rome, 4th Century
Catacomb: groups of dead people's grave
Cubiculum: word for roman bedroom (domestic architecture), wealthier loculus (funeral
o Similar to having business class on airplane…
loculus : long rectangular nitches that bodies can lie down
Subject matter: frescoed,
o Ceiling: decorated in rectangular pattern and each rectangle has a star inside
Roman architecture has architectural feature where ceiling is not flat that's
make from panels that recess in that pattern, called copers
Painted redations of roman architecture in early christian space
Pagaon context: heaven where gods and goddess resived
Christian: heaven with one true god
o Different subject matter and symbol derives from roman artistic vocabulary and

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o Has a hallo (other worldly status), two Greek letter on side (alpha and omega - first
and last number of Greek alphabet - symbolize entirety and all encompassing
knowledge and Christian true),
o Guy in toga hitting someone with stick: depiction of St Peter, who was imprisoned in
Rome, he was dehydrated and needed water and used a staff to hit a stone
Depiction of local miracle story in Rome
o Local roman martyrs who was
o Showing componts of early christian painting to decorate funeral chapel, to honor
Christian faith and local story and roman aesthetic
(Slide 4)
Judaism: Aniconic (not using or permitting images)
o No figural images, traditions of Judaism manuscript but In the catacombs there is no
representation of the human forms in catacombs or cubiculum
From exodus 20:4-5:"…no graven images"
(Slide 5) Menorahs and the Ark of the Covenant, Jewish Catacomb, Villa Torfonia, Rome, 3rd
Century CE
No living beings, depict instead two menorahs, veil of oil, ark of covenant (contain in the
Jewish temple)
(Slide 6) Dura-Europos, Syria - plan and Aerial Views
Coexistant of different faiths
Dura-Europos: town of edge of syria that overlook river, urban center like roman itself
o Founded after alexander the great
o Excavated in early 1930's, serve as roman settlement and military based, reached it's
100-200 CE, town sacked in 256 CE by parthien - urban infrusture has crumbled
o Encounter a Jewish house Synagogue
Found many Gods,
Situation of mulitple gods and goddess and worshiped in the open, no threat of
persecution unlike capital of roman
Theory of religious studies: in social structure, capital cities tend to virility
in religious faith but further outward of capital and close to edge of
empire, the more flexible religious faith becomes
(Slide 7) Wall with Torah Niche, Dura Europos, Syria, 244 - 245 CE
Wall with niche for torah (Jewish religious text)
(Slide 8) Moses Parting the Red Sea (Detailed of Wall in a House Synagogue)
Part of the wall with Torah Niche
Shown at the red sea, Moses shown twice (1. red sea has parted for hebrews to pass
through to prevent Roman from following them and 2. parts of red sea that show the arm
that is lost in sea - show the miraculous salvation is through moses as an agent of God-
god's hand appearing on the top)
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