Illustration of the Joshua Roll

Battle Scene

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Josua-Rolle, Codex Vaticanus Pal. Graec. 431. Byzantine, 10th century. Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican. Source: Carleton College

The Joshua Roll is one of the magnificent surviving manuscripts of the Imperial Court School of Byzantium and represents the so-called Macedonian Renaissance. Its cycle of illustrations resemble a frieze, executed in grisaille painting. It is now kept in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. Both drawings and paintings contained in the book are the work of different hands, and the coloring was probably added at a later stage. The text is a mixture of Greek majuscule and minuscule forms, containing extracts from relevant Bible scenes. Nothing is really known about the origin of the roll, but the codex was likely intended to glorify the military success of the Byzantine people in the Holy Land as they reasserted themselves against the Arabs. The Greek Bible texts included here correspond to the Septuagint.

Images of all 15 sections of the Joshua Roll