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Not currently on display at the V&A

Cross

5th Century - 7th Century
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Excavated from a cemetery to the north-west of Illahun near Al Fayyum middle Egypt. Many small crosses have been found in early Christian burial sites in Syria, Palestine and Egypt . Some were made of precious materials, however the majority were made of less costly materials, such as bronze, wood and bone. They served both as personal jewellery and as pendants with an apotropaic function. In their burial context they signify the faith of the wearer and their hopes for a Christian afterlife.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lead
Brief Description
Cross, lead, Fayum, Egypt, Late Antique, 5th to 7th Century
Physical Description
Lead cross pattée pendant set within a circle, with a suspension loop on the top.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 1.8cm
Styles
Credit line
Given by Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, esq.
Object history
Found at a cemetary near Illahun, in the Fayum.



Items 595-1890 to 602-1890 inclusive donated directly from W.M.F. Petrie. Items 603-1890 to 610-1890 inclusive purchased from Mr Fraser, per Petrie.

Historical context
Many small crosses have been found in early Christian burial sites in Syria, Palestine and Egypt . Some were made of precious materials, however the majority were made of less costly materials, such as bronze, wood and bone. They served both as personal jewellery and as pendants with an apotropaic function. In their burial context they signify the faith of the wearer and their hopes for a Christian afterlife.



Christianity arrived in Egypt from Judea. It probably first came into Alexandria, which was both an intellectual centre and the home of a large Jewish community. Christianity was heavily persecuted in the third century AD, but was widely accepted by the end of the fourth century. The Christian church within Egypt was known as the Coptic church, from a corruption of the Greek word for Egyptians, Aiguptioi. The term 'Coptic period' is a very approximate one; it may be thought of as running from the third century AD until around the time of the visible decline of Christianity in the ninth century AD. It is roughly equivalent to the Byzantine period elsewhere in the Mediterranean world.
Association
Summary
Excavated from a cemetery to the north-west of Illahun near Al Fayyum middle Egypt. Many small crosses have been found in early Christian burial sites in Syria, Palestine and Egypt . Some were made of precious materials, however the majority were made of less costly materials, such as bronze, wood and bone. They served both as personal jewellery and as pendants with an apotropaic function. In their burial context they signify the faith of the wearer and their hopes for a Christian afterlife.
Bibliographic References
  • Possibly from the Coptic cemetery mentioned briefly in passing, "from which many garments and other objects were obtained", in W.M.F. Petrie, Kahun, Gurob and Hawara (London: 1890): 7.
  • A similar example listed as an earring, also from the Fayum and possibly from the same set, is depicted in W.M.F. Petrie, Objects of Daily Use (London: 1927), No. 242A on p.14, pl.10.
Collection
Accession Number
596-1890

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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