Ancient Roman graffiti from 200 AD mocks Christians and Jesus as having the head of a donkey

Anita Durairaj
Outline of the Alexamenos GraffitoPhoto byUnknown author; Public Domain Image

The Alexamenos Graffito is a piece of ancient Roman graffiti that is considered to be the earliest known depiction of Jesus Christ.

It is a drawing of a man worshiping a crucified figure, with the Greek inscription "Alexamenos worships his god."

The graffiti work was discovered in the late 19th century in Rome, Italy. It was found during renovations of a building near Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome.

The building was believed to have once belonged to the Emperor Caligula. Later, it was used as a boarding school for imperial page boys. The graffiti was discovered on a wall in one of the rooms.

It is not clear who made the graffiti or when it was created, but it is thought to have been made in the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD, during the early years of the Roman Empire's adoption of Christianity as its state religion.

The graffiti is significant because it provides evidence of early Christianity in Rome and its spread among the Roman population. It is also notable because it represents a negative depiction of a Christian by a non-Christian, indicating that early Christianity was not universally accepted and was subject to criticism and ridicule.

The graffiti is crudely scratched into the soft plaster of the wall and while it shows a man worshipping a crucified figure, the figure on the cross has the head of a donkey.

It is believed that whoever drew the graffiti was mocking Christ and the Christian man named Alexamenos who was worshipping him.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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