Baptistery wall painting: Christ Walking on Water Artist: Unknown

ca. A.D. 232

Ancient Art

On view, 1st floor, Dura-Europos

The Christian building at Dura-Europos is the world’s earliest known house-church. The most elaborate and ritually significant room in the building was the baptistery, where Christians welcomed members into their community through the sacrament of baptism. In this fragment of a wall painting from the baptistery, Christ encourages his apostle Peter to walk over a stormy sea as a ship carrying other apostles sails in the background. The image told viewers that, just as Christ saved Peter from drowning in the waters of Galilee, he would save baptized Christian souls through his death and resurrection.


Paint on plaster


54 3/4 × 39 3/8 in. (139 × 100 cm)

Credit Line

Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos

Accession Number



Roman (3rd century A.D.)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Excavated by the Yale-French Excavations at Dura-Europos (block M8, Christian Building), present-day Syria, 1928–37; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Blair Fowlkes-Childs and Michael Seymour, The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019), 204–5, no. 145B
  • Sebastian P. Brock, Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgias Press, 2011), 132
  • Jennifer Chi and Sebastian Heath, eds., Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews, and Christians at Roman Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 2011), 46–47, no. 23, fig. 2–9
  • Lisa R. Brody and Gail Hoffman, eds., Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity (Boston: McMullen Museum of Art, 2011), 335, no. 20, pl. 20
  • Katherine M Kiefer and Susan B. Matheson, Life in an Eastern Province: The Roman Fortress at Dura-Europos, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), no. 6
  • Clark Hopkins, The Discovery of Dura-Europos, ed. Bernard Goldman (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979), 90–91, 112–114, ill
  • Ann Perkins, The Art of Dura-Europos, 1st ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), 52–55, pl. 18 right, ill
  • Carl H. Kraeling and C. Bradford Welles, The Excavations at Dura-Europos (New Haven, Conn.: Dura-Europos Publications, 1967), 61–65, fig. 6 is a drawing from tracing of Christ, pls. 25, 36, and 37 (tracing), fig. 6
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

religious art

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