The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art surveys a broad spectrum of Christian art produced from the late second to the sixth centuries. The first part of the book opens with a general survey of the subject and then presents fifteen essays that discuss specific media of visual art—catacomb paintings, sculpture, mosaics, gold glass, gems, reliquaries, ceramics, icons, ivories, textiles, silver, and illuminated manuscripts. Each is written by a noted expert in the field. The second part of the book takes up themes relevant to the study of early Christian art. These seven chapters consider the ritual practices in decorated spaces, the emergence of images of Christ’s Passion and miracles, the functions of Christian secular portraits, the exemplary mosaics of Ravenna, the early modern history of Christian art and archaeology studies, and further reflection on this field called “early Christian art.” Each of the volume’s chapters includes photographs of many of the objects discussed, plus bibliographic notes and recommendations for further reading.

The result is an invaluable introduction to and appraisal of the art that developed out of the spread of Christianity through the late antique world. Undergraduate and graduate students of late classical, early Christian, and Byzantine culture, religion, or art will find it an accessible and insightful orientation to the field. Additionally, professional academics, archivists, and curators working in these areas will also find it valuable as a resource for their own research, as well as a textbook or reference work for their students.

chapter 1|17 pages


Early Christian art

part I|253 pages


chapter 5|13 pages

Freestanding Sculpture

chapter 7|20 pages

Christian Floor Mosaics

Modes of study and potential meanings

chapter 8|17 pages

Gold-Glass in Late Antiquity

chapter 9|9 pages

Engraved Gems and Amulets

chapter 13|14 pages

Christian Ivories

Containment, manipulation, and the creation of meaning

chapter 14|19 pages


The emergence of a Christian identity in cloth

chapter 15|14 pages

Early Christian Silver

Sacred and domestic