Early Christian Bronze Latin Cross with Central Cabochon, Eastern Roman/Early Byzantine, 6th – 9th century AD
(55 x 35 mm – 2.2 x 1.4”)
This is an substantial heavy bronze Latin pectoral cross. The flared arms are simply rendered, and there is a notable central disc and cabochon as an enhancement. Unusually, on the back of the cross, the scribed lines where the artisan blocked in the shape can still be seen! This cross retains its hanging loop.
Well preserved, with green and brown surface patina - formerly in a British collection. The loop is thinned from wear.
By the 5th and 6th centuries, the Cross had replaced the Chi-Rho as the standard emblem of Christian religious devotion. Its meaning transcended that of the simple monogram to visually recall the crucifixion. Crosses were worn by individuals from every social stratum, from the elaborate bejeweled golden cross of the patriarch to the simple crosses of the common man. The word crusade, which is derived from the Latin crux (cross), is a reference to the biblical injunction that Christians carry their cross. Crusaders wore a red cross sewn on their tunics to indicate they had assumed the cross and were soldiers of Christ. Many also wore a pectoral cross around their neck.