Archaeologists have uncovered one of the earliest-known images of Jesus in the town of Cástulo in Andalusia, Spain. The image, engraved on a glass plate known as a paten, shows a beardless, short-haired Jesus.
The archaeologists estimate the 8.6-inch paten is from the fourth century C.E., and they suspect it was used to hold Eucharistic bread. The image shows Jesus in a philosopher's toga, along with two other — also beardless — male figures, whom researchers suspect are Peter and Paul, two of Jesus' apostles. All three of the men are depicted with halos. "The scene takes place in the celestial orb, framed between two palm trees, which in Christian iconography represent immortality, the afterlife, and heaven, among other things," the archaeologists said in a statement.
The paten is the earliest depiction that has been found in Spain, Discovery News reports, and it is "in an excellent state of preservation," with 81 percent of its original contents restored. The paten is now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Linares. --Meghan DeMaria