White marble (marmor Proconnesium)
Diam. 71 cm
4th-5th century AD
Circular plate in white marble, with a light concavity, a simple edge and slightly outlined, in a very good conservation status. The studies and research about these handcrafts haven’t found yet a univocal position about its use, or its production or spreading. Many samples are coming from the oriental byzantine area, in particular from the northern Syria of the 4th century AD. Moreover, the high quality of the carving, plus the preciousness of the marble make possibile a Greek or Anatolian provenance, spread in the Mediterranean basin during Paleo Christian age, for both private or ritual usage. (Martiniani-Reber M., Decrouez D, Sur une table de marbre d’époque paléochrétienne récemment entrée dans les collections du Musée d’art et d’histoire, in Genava, 49 (2001) pp. 163-169). A research made on the found objects has discovered few different worship applications: as a liturgical shelves, easily adaptable at different situations; as a secondary altar in lateral exedras or as a centrally positioned main altar table on a one-leg support, in particular inside the martyria: circular floor-plant buildings which would justify the plate’ shape, but with plates of larger dimensions than ours; eventually as a supporting shelf for the liturgical offers from the worshippers, like was testified by the large circular flat plates still used today in the byzantine ceremony of proscomidia. Same examples were also used as a luxurious furniture, like table tops on three or four feet support, as we can also find in the Paleo-Christian or medieval iconography.