The Plot of the Chief Priests
The scene on the main side of the capital facing north shows a gathering of seven bearded men.
The central figure can be identified as the high priest Caiaphas by his peculiar head-dress. He holds a book in his hand; it has a clearly valuable binding decorated with an eight-sided star. With his left hand he points eastward, in the direction where the consequence of the decision taken by the high council (Sanhedrin) is to be played out (the Arrest of Jesus represented in capital E04PP16).
Two men stand next to Caiphas, while two others sit on stools decorated with studs. Their heads are covered with caps. Two further men stand behind them. They are the Jewish priests, scribes, elders and Pharisees mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and John, who meet in counsel together to decide on the fate of Jesus (Mt 26:3-6 and Jn 11:47-53).
In spite of the alignment and uniformity of the figures, rigid frontality is avoided by the turning of their heads in three-quarter or full profile and by the variety of their gestures.
The composition and execution of the relief testify to high artistic quality.