The Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus: Detail, the Nativity

According to Schiller (I, 59) this is the earliest known representation of the Nativity, although images with just the baby and the two beasts may conceivably have preceded it. The ox and ass are invariable elements in all Nativities. The child is swaddled in a crib supported by tree-like bushes. As usual in images of this type the shepherd wears a one-shoulder tunic and holds a staff.

View the entire sarcophagus.
Read more about images of the Nativity.

Photographed at the Palazzo Massimo by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.