Archaeologists recently discovered a medieval treasure trove in England, which is being hailed as one of the most important Anglo-Saxon finds in history. Found amongst the hoard was this bishop’s headdress. Believed to be from the 7th century, this piece is now the oldest episcopal head covering currently known:
While a little worse for wear, it is likely that this piece was made to resemble what the early European Christians believed were the headwear of the Jewish high priests, as evidenced by this 8th Century painting of Ezra:
It also bears some similarity to the headpieces of the pagan priests of ancient Rome; particularly those worn by the Flamines and Salii:
This does not, however, reflect our knowledge of the garments of the High Priest as we understand it from the Bible, which describes something of a distinctly Middle Eastern style:
Perhaps ironically, this bishop’s headpiece does bear a striking resemblance to the Jewish headgear that would later become standard in 13th Century England:
No doubt this will contribute to the ongoing debate regarding the influence of Judaism vs. Paganism in the development of the early European Church.
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