Yale University Art Gallery

EARLIEST IMAGE OF MARY. A painting in the baptistery of the third-century church at Dura-Europos, Syria, depicts a woman beside a well. Although this figure has been interpreted previously as the Samaritan woman, new analysis suggests that she is actually the Virgin Mary. This scene portrays the Annunciation—when the angel Gabriel announces to the Virgin Mary that she will bear a son, Jesus (Luke 1:26–38). This is the earliest depiction of the Virgin Mary found to date.