On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300

Small tabletops like this one were used to celebrate feasts for the dead at grave sites; this commemorative practice was known throughout the Roman and early Byzantine worlds. The tables were often supported on bases, similar to the example displayed below, which were elaborately carved with messages promising mankind's salvation. Here, at the lower edge of the table, four sheep, representing the blessed according to Matthew 25:33-40, flank a Christogram, a monogram composed of the first two letters of Christ's name in Greek, chi (X) and rho (P). Such tables are often called sigma tables due to their resemblance to the late form of the Greek letter.

Tabletop, Marble, Byzantine

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