Ghirlandaio was enthusiastic about the antique art and he frequently used antique decorative elements in his paintings.
There is an antique sarcophag behind the child Jesus with a Latin inscription previewing the birth of the Redeemer.
The first shepherd, kneeling down, is Ghirlandaio himself.
Striking for the genuineness of his expression and completeness is the old man standing behind, who has the simple, honest appearence of a Tuscan peasant, his sharp, good-natured face lightened by his almost shaven-looking white hair.
It looks almost as if he is commenting on the event in a low voice.