This wonderful arch consists of intertwined men and animals combined in a frightening vision of suffering in Hell or Purgatory. The arch is from the Cathedral of Alife, an ancient Roman city near Naples, Italy, and is a remarkable example of Italian Romanesque sculpture. The analysis of the marble of the individual pieces indicates that they were carved from Roman materials originally from quarries in Italy, Turkey, and the Greek islands. Fragments of ancient sculpture can be seen on the reverse side of the medieval carving.
A team of Duke students is developing an interactive visualization to engage museum visitors with the history and meaning of this remarkable work of art.