Exhibitions/ Art Object

Ampulla with Scenes of the Crucifixion and the Women at the Tomb

6th–early 7th century
Made in Jerusalem (?)
Diam: 1 13/16 in. (4.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Byzantine Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. (BZ.1948.18)
Not on view
Jerusalem is a holy site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For Christians, it is revered as the site of Christ’s death and Resurrection. Since the fourth century, when Emperor Constantine I erected the Holy Sepulchre over Christ’s tomb, Christian pilgrims have thronged there, often acquiring memorials of their visit.
On this ampulla, two pilgrims kneeling to touch the cross of the crucified Christ evoke the pilgrim’s experience at the Holy Sepulchre. The tomb is depicted as being in the Anastasis Rotunda in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The inscription in Greek, "Oil of the wood of life from the holy sites of Christ," suggests the ampulla contained holy oil.
Inscription: [in Greek, surrounding the Crucifixion scene:] Oil of the wood of life from the holy sites of Christ; [above the Women at the Tomb:] The Lord is risen
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.