23 Jun 2010

Oldest paintings of apostles believed found

6:51 pm on 23 June 2010

Archaeologists and art restorers have discovered what they believe are the oldest paintings of the faces of Jesus Christ's apostles.

The paintings, depicting four of the most important figures of the early Christian church, were discovered in Rome on the ceiling of a burial chamber.

The faces of Andrew, John, Peter and Paul were uncovered in a catacomb by means of new laser technology, the BBC reports.

The restorers and Vatican officials believe the paintings date from the second half of the fourth century or the early fifth.

The frescoes in the tomb of a Roman noblewoman were known about but their details came to light during a two-year restoration project funded by the Vatican.

The laser technology allowed the restorers to burn off thick white calcium carbonate deposits caused by extreme humidity and lack of air.