At that time prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. Acts 11:27-30
The bas-relief tablet is among the finest examples of late Roman ivories. It is a justly famous piece because it is one of the first ivory diptychs with religious content and one of the earliest known representations of the Holy Sepulchre, which appears below the images of two Evangelists: Luke, symbolised by a bull, and Mathew, by an angel. In the scene below, the women, united in mourning for the dead Saviour, encounter a character, who represents an angel or the risen Christ. The presence of only two evangelists suggests the existence of a second piece, now lost.