The Rome or David Casket, Byzantine, 898 or 900AD


Christ marries Leo VI and the Empress
A pair of servants adore the royal couple

Leo VI and Christ



Murder of the priests and the women and children of Nob
The kolakeia, a unicum in David illustration
David plays the flute while minding the sheep. David fights a lion.



Saul sleeps in the cave at Engedi
David is anointed
David’s birth


David showing Saul’s severed garment. The ‘coronation’ of David.
David fights Goliath.
David beheads Goliath.


David receiving the show bread and Goliath’s armour from Abimelech
David carries Goliath's head
Michal betrothed to David/Michal helps David escape Saul
An ivory casket in the Palazzo Venezia, Rome.
Overall dimensions: 16.1 x 8.4 x 10.3cm h.
The casket had been attributed to Armenia based on the strangeness of the lettering of part of the inscription. Later this was found to be due to repair of the casket, probably in the 17th century.
Dating and attribution:
10th Century Armenian - J Strzygowski, Byzantinische Zeitscrift, x, 1901, pp 728-30.
10th Century Armenian - A. Venturi, Storia dell'arte italiana, II, Milan, 1902.
10th to 11th Century Armenian - Goldschmidt and Weitzmann, Die byzantinischen Elfenbeinskulpturen des X.-XIII. Jahrhunderts, 2 vols., Berlin, 1930-34. 1, no. 123.
Sicilian or south Italian 2nd half of the 12th Century - E. Robinson, "The Rome Casket," in Studies in Memory of David Talbot Rice, ed. G. Robertson and G. Henderson, Edinburgh, 1975, 11-15.
886AD Byzantine - A. Guillou, "Deux ivoires constantinopolitains datés du IXe et siècle," in Byzance et les Slaves, Mélanges Ivan Dujčev. ed. S. Dufrenne, Paris n.d. [1979], 207-09.
898 or 900AD Byzantine - A Cutler and N Oikonomides, An Imperial Byzantine Casket and Its fate at a Humanist's Hands, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 77-87
Drawings of infantry on the Rome or David Casket from Byzantine Armies 886-1118 by Ian Heath and Angus McBride.
Drawings of infantry on the Rome or David Casket from The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
Armenian infantry from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath, based on this casket and its attribution as Armenian.



Other Byzantine resources:
Fresco from Hagios Demetrios, Thessalonika, 7-8th century
A Byzantine Casket, 10th-11th century, Musée National du Moyen Âge, Paris, France
Byzantine Ivory Casket, early 11th Century, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
A Byzantine Ivory Casket, 11-12th Centuries, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Other Illustrations of Byzantine Costume & Soldiers

Other 9th century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers




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