Byzantine / Plaques with Scenes from the Story of Joshua / 10th centuryByzantine
Plaques with Scenes from the Story of Joshua
10th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Anatolian; Byzantine
Creator Name-CRT: Byzantine
Title: Plaques with Scenes from the Story of Joshua
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 900
Creation End Date: 999
Creation Date: 10th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ivories
Materials and Techniques: Ivory, traces of polychromy, gilding; bone (border strips)
Dimensions: (a): 2 5/8 x 5 1/8 in. (6.6 x 13 cm); (b): 2 x 3 3/8 in. (5 x 8.5 cm); (c): 2 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. (6 x 9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 17.190.137a-c
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

The prosperity and cultural renaissance of the Byzantine Empire during the tenth and eleventh centuries are demonstrated by elaborate ivory boxes that may have served as containers for gifts or as luxury objects for display. These plaques, carved with the Old Testament story of the reconquest of the Holy Land by Joshua and the Israelites, were once fastened to the wooden core of a box of the type called a rosette casket, of which about fifty examples survive. The plaques illustrate events in the biblical story of Joshua's conquest of the Promised Land; each is inscribed with a direct quotation from or a paraphrase of the Book of Joshua. On the plaques, Joshua leads the Israelites in ambushing the army led by the king of Ai (Joshua 8:10-23), he condemns the king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:26), and he receives the ambassadors from Gibeon (Joshua 9). Joshua's triumph may have been seen at this time as a prototype for Byzantine attempts to reconquer the Holy Land from the Arabs. Such images commemorated Byzantine victories over the infidels and signified the desire to restore the Holy Land to Christian rule. Each plaque is framed by a border of medallions containing bust portraits in profile and rosettes. The figures are exquisitely carved in naturalistic poses. It has been argued that the traces of paint on the ivories are original.

AMICA ID: MMA_.17.190.137a-c
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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