Casket with Warriors and Mythological Figures

Date: 10th–11th century

Geography: Made in Constantinople

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Bone plaques and ornamental strips over wood; silver lock plate

Dimensions: Overall: 4 5/8 x 17 1/4 x 7 1/8in. (11.7 x 43.8 x 18.1cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.237


Bone caskets, used by the Byzantines in their homes, were often decorated with themes from classical antiquity. This casket shows an array of horsemen and soldiers, an enthroned military leader, and a winged youth holding a snake. In the Middle Ages, many such caskets reached Latin-speaking western Europe, where, despite their non-Christian decoration, they were used in churches as containers for relics.