Two Warriors on Horseback on a Casket Lid
Byzantine, mid 11th century

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Two Warriors on Horseback
Object: Casket lid
Place of origin: Istanbul, Turkey
Date: mid 11th century
Dimensions: Height: 7.8 cm, Length: 16.8 cm
Materials and Techniques: Elephant ivory with traces of paint
Two mounted warriors face each other, the one on the left holding a lance, the other a sword. Both carry round shields on their backs, strapped over their shoulders. Behind each warrior a stubby trunk of a tree emerges from the border. The integral border is composed of interlaced scrolls, with lozenges in the interstices, forming circles filled with leaves, animals, a griffin and birds.
It originally formed the lid of a small casket. There are remains of crimson pigmentation, indicating that the plaque was completely painted in this colour, although probably not originally. Unusually for Byzantine caskets, this lid is carved from a solid plaque of ivory rather than being constructed from separate elements pegged to a wooden core.
Victoria & Albert Museum number: A.542:1-1910



Referenced as figure 218 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
218. Ivory panel, 10th-11th centuries AD, Byzantine, Victoria and Albert Museum no. A525.1910 (Gol).


Other resources for Byzantines:
Byzantine Mosaic depicting the soldier, Longinus, in the Nea Moni Church, Chios, Greece, c.1050AD
A Byzantine Plaque of Saint Theodore as a soldier, 11th century
Other Byzantine Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers