Volume 62, Issue 1, June 2022

Giulia Abbatiello, Cristina Cumbo
Pages 205-235

Gammadiae, simbolo di santità e autorevolezza: cambiamenti morfologici dall’antichità al Medioevo

The so-called gammadiae are symbols similar to letters whose specific meaning is unknown. It is currently believed that they could have originated among Hellenistic Jews, and been inherited by Christians, who adapted them to own needs. They seem to have indicated the holiness of the characters marked by them. Building on previous analysis and on the recent systematic cataloguing of the Early Christian catacombs of Rome, as well as a range of other artefacts, we examine two lesser known archaeological finds, and finally consider some examples of gammadiae “of transition”, which appear during the Medieval period predominantly in manuscripts or in the mosaics of basilicas. These last symbols show differences from the Early Christian ones, even though they still appear systematically on the pallia of Christ, the martyrs, saints and other holy people.