London: Spanish scientists have discovered what could be one of the earliest-known images of Jesus Christ, painted on the walls of a mysterious underground structure in an ancient Egyptian tomb.
A team of archaeologists led by Josep Padro from the Catalan Egyptology Society (SCE) has unearthed a mystery underground structure in buried tombs, which date back to the 6th and 7th centuries, in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus.
The structure is decorated with Coptic images - or paintings by a group who number among the earliest Christians - and may contain one of the earliest-known representations of Jesus Christ.
Padro, who has spent over 20 years excavating sites in the area, described the discovery to La Vanguardia newspaper as "exceptional".
Padro said the underground stone structure was "incredibly good, but we don`t know what it is".
According to The Local, the archaeologists found "five or six coats of paint on the walls, the last of which was from the Coptic period of the first Christians."
Among the plant motifs and inscriptions was the "figure of a young man, with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing," according to Padro.
"We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ," he added.
A team is now translating the inscriptions surrounding the figure.
The Egyptian ministry will take responsibility for developing the archaeological site, which was discovered by a joint team from the CSE and the University of Barcelona.