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Alta - Alife Arch Low Polygon 04112016 3D Model
This archivolt, or semi-circular molding, was placed above one of the exterior doorways of a church in Alife in Southern Italy, near Naples. The swarm of deformed and devouring creatures, including serpents, griffins, roosters, and a lion, some of which attack humans, may depict the torments of sinners on the day of judgment when Christ would return to judge all people. Perhaps these images were intended to inspire the churchgoer to consider the consequences of sin and adopt a virtuous life.
Recent scholarship explores whether the sculpted forms might evoke episodes from the Old Testament. The lion that overwhelms the man on the lower right block may allude to the story of the prophet Daniel in the den of lions, found in the book of Daniel (Chapter 6). The man on the lower left block, who appears to emerge from the gaping mouth of a sea serpent, might recall the prophet Johan, whose story in the Book of Jonah, tells of him being eaten by a great fish in whose belly he stayed for three days.