501 Treasures of Byzantium: No.42 Troyes casket with emperors and hunters, 10th century, Catherdral of Troyes, France.

This surprising treasure resides in the Cathedral of Troyes, in France. It is believed that it was brought from Constantinople to Troyes, by bishop Jean Langlois, after the great city was sacked during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Wonderful sculpted scenes of emperors and hunters are featured on all sides of the casket. The lid features two emperors carrying spears on decorated horses on either side of a walled city. The people in the city appear to sing the praises of the emperors with arms outreached. Interestingly, the emperor on the right appears to be offered a crown. (Art historians often wonder whether the lid is in fact really only showing one emperor, repeated for decorative purposes.) On the rear panel a scene depicts a hunter using a lance attacking a wild boar with the aid of hunting dogs. While the front panel (as seen above) shows a lion hunt with two riders perfectly positioned between a lion. The two ends of the casket, which often get overlooked, depict a long-necked bird, which seems to resemble a phoenix, as a symbol of rebirth.

Despite some obvious cracks in the lid and end panels, the Troyes casket is incredible. It is made entirely from sculpted ivory panels that were once originally held together by ivory pegs. Today the casket is held together by small pieces of metal, but that doesn’t seem to diminish its beauty.

Photo credit: The copyright status of the image of the Troyes casket is unclear. I make use of it under the rationale of fair use for educational purposes. It also enables me to makes an important contribution to the readers understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone.