This paper focuses on the remains of the Baptistery chapel within the North Church complex on the outskirts of Shivta, a fifth-seventh century Byzantine village in the Negev. Presumably a monastery, the North Church is the largest and most elaborately constructed of the three Shivta churches. After addressing general structural and chronological issues of the complex, a comparison of the North Church Baptistery to the South Church Baptistery aims to clarify the linkage between shape and ritual. The authors propose that the earlier South Church Baptistery probably served the public, while the later North Church Baptistery fulfilled the internal needs of the monastery. The remains of the Baptism of Christ wall painting, recently rediscovered in the apse of the North Church Baptistery, complements, even if partially, knowledge of the links between architecture, liturgy, and art within the space. The study offers a glimpse into the religious and cultural world of the people who lived in this arid and remote, but by no means isolated area.
© 2022 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston
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