Plaque with Scenes from the Story of Joshua,


These panels are from a casket that illustrated Joshua’s conquest of the Promised Land and carry paraphrasings of texts from the Book of Joshua. The first narrative panel, designed to fit a lock plate, shows the capture of the city of Ai and is inscribed, “And Joshua stretched out his hand toward the city and they rose up quickly and they slew all” (Joshua 8:18–19). The second panel shows the captive king of Ai, first bent in submission before Joshua and then, at the far right, hanged on a forked stake. The inscription reads, “And they brought the King of Ai to Joshua and they hanged him” (8:23, 29). The third panel, showing emissaries from the Gibeonites approaching Joshua, has the inscription, “The Gibeonites displaying their torn clothes” (9:13). Joshua’s story was often invoked in the middle Byzantine period, when Byzantines identified themselves with God’s chosen people, likening their own military victories and defeats to those of the ancient Hebrews.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300

Public Domain

Plaque with Scenes from the Story of Joshua

Date: 900–1000

Geography: Made in Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Ivory, traces of polychromy, gilding; bone (border strips)

Dimensions: a: 2 1/2 x 3 9/16 x 1/4 in. (6.3 x 9 x 0.6 cm)
b: 1 1/16 x 3 9/16 x 1/16 in. (2.7 x 9.1 x 0.2 cm)
c: 3 5/8 x 1 x 1/16 in. (9.2 x 2.6 x 0.2 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.137a-c

Inscription: [on the frame at upper left, above Joshua’s head]: IHCOYC (Joshua); [at upper right]: H ΓABAONHTE EΠH AΦIKNYMENOC TA HMATHA AYTωN ΔHPOΓOTA (The Gibeonites Displaying Their Torn Clothes [adapted from Joshua 9:13])
[ George Brauer, Paris (sold 1912)]; J. Pierpont Morgan (American), London and New York (1912–1913); Estate of J. Pierpont Morgan(1913–1917)
Nye, Phila Calder. "The Oblong Caskets of the Byzantine Period." American Journal of Archaeology 23, no. 4 (October–December 1919). pp. 405–6, 412, fig. 3.

Breck, Joseph. "Pre-Gothic Ivories in the Pierpont Morgan Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, o.s., 15, no. 1 (January 1920). p. 14.

Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 1st ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1925. pp. 46–47.

Dalton, O. M. East Christian Art: A Survey of the Monuments. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925. p. 214.

Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. The Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 2nd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929. pp. 46–47.

Goldschmidt, Adolph, and Kurt Weitzmann. Die Byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.-XIII. Jahrhunderts. Vol. 1. Berlin: Bruno Cassirer, 1930. no. 3, pp. 13, 15-16, 24, fig. 3, pl. I.

Miner, Dorothy, ed. Early Christian and Byzantine Art: An Exhibition Held at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1947. p. 42.

Weitzmann, Kurt. The Joshua Roll: A Work of the Macedonian Renaissance. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948. p. 35.

Schapiro, Meyer. "The Place of the Joshua roll in Byzantine history." Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 6th ser., 35 (March 1949). p. 173.

Ippel, Albert. "Die Josuarolle: Bestand, Gestalt und Zeit." Bonner Jahrbücher 158 (1958). pp. 153–54, pl. 44, fig. 1.

Beckwith, John. The Veroli Casket. Museum Monograph, Vol. 18. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1962. pp. 3, 5, fig. 4c.

Byzantine Art, a[n] European Art. Catalogue of the Ninth Exhibition of the Council of Europe. Athens: Zappeion Exhibition Hall, 1964. p. 152.

Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 43, p. 51.

Connor, Carolyn L. "New Perspectives on Byzantine Ivories." Gesta 30, no. 2 (1991). pp. 100–103, fig. 1–3.

Speck, Paul. "Die Rosettenkästchen: Originalarbeiten oder Versuche einer Verwendung von vorhandenem Material?." Byzantinische Zeitschrift 86–87 (1993–94). pp. 82–85.

Cutler, Anthony. The Hand of the Master: Craftsmanship, Ivory, and Society in Byzantium (9th–11th centuries). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994. pp. 84, 147–49.

Rodley, Lyn. Byzantine Art and Architecture: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. p. 175.

Kresten, Otto. "Giosuè, Rotulo di." In Enciclopedia dell'arte medievale. Vol. 6. Rome: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1995. p. 645.

Evans, Helen C., and William D. Wixom, ed. The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843–1261. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 152c, pp. 228–29.

Connor, Carolyn L. The Color of Ivory: Polychromy on Byzantine Ivories. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998. pp. 10-11, pl. II-VI.

Cutler, Anthony. "Mistaken Antiquity: Thoughts on Some Recent Commentary on the Rosette Caskets." In Aetos: Studies in Honour of Cyril Mango, edited by Ihor Ševčenko, and Irmgard Hutter. Stuttgart and Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1998. pp. 46–54.

Evans, Helen C., Melanie Holcomb, and Robert Hallman. "The Arts of Byzantium." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 58, no. 4 (Spring 2001). p. 49.

Kresten, Otto. Il rotolo di Giosuè (BAV. Pal. gr. 431) e gli ottateuchi miniati bizantini: Inaugurazione del corso biennale, Anni Accademici 2008-2010, Città del Vaticano. Vatican City: Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, 2010. p. 34 n. 45.

Lowden, John. "Illustrated Octateuch Manuscripts: A Byzantine Phenomenon." In The Old Testament in Byzantium, edited by Robert Nelson, and Paul Magdalino. Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010. pp. 132–33.

Williamson, Paul. Medieval Ivory Carvings: Early Christian to Romanesque. London: V & A Publications, 2010. p. 75.

Wander, Steven H. The Joshua Roll. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012. pp. 23–24, 57, 59–60, 64–65, fig. 10.