Date: Mid-tenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Turkey
Dimensions: 31 cm tall and originally 10.6 m long
Description: The mid-tenth-century Joshua Roll, probably created by artists of the imperial workshops in Constantinople, is now preserved as disassembled pieces of parchment in the Vatican Library. Its fifteen sheets (two of which are now lost) were originally attached end to end in the form of a scroll that was 10.6 m in length. Even though the codex was the dominant form of the book among medieval Christians, scrolls were sometimes produced for symbolic effect. The format of the Joshua Roll might have imparted an antique or nostalgic feel to the Old Testament Joshua narratives it depicts. In addition to a horizontal narrative organization that recalls earlier scrolls or cartoons made for planning triumphal columns, the Joshua Roll also incorporates archaizing personifications of mountains, rivers, and cities throughout. The city of Gibeon, for example, appears as a woman with a crown of city walls sitting below the sun. This represents the miracle from chapter 10 of the Book of Joshua, in which the sun remained stationary over Gibeon until the Israelites defeated the armies of five Amorite kings.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 5
Repository and Online Resources: • Look through the Joshua Roll on the website of the Vatican Library.
Tags: Byzantine, Christian, Mediterranean, Artistic production, Connections to the past, Bible, Greek, Personifications, War