Christian Destruction and Desecration of Images of Classical Antiquity: A Study in Religious Intolerance in the Ancient World


ACLS Fellowship Program


Art History


Although the Christian Church preserved a great deal from the classical past, it was also responsible for the destruction of an incalculable amount of material culture regarded as objectionable or incompatible with Christian beliefs and teachings. This study is the first to focus principally on the physical evidence for Christian attacks on the sacred and secular images of ancient polytheistic peoples in the Mediterranean area. These works range from "high art" to humble artifacts from the period in which Christianity first came to dominate in the early fourth to mid-sixth centuries. Exploring the range of attitudes toward these images achieves a better understanding of how individuals and groups respond to art in any period in which religious fervor takes hold.