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Rare Byzantine scroll goes on display in Birmingham

An extremely rare Byzantine-era scroll has gone on show in Birmingham for the first time since it was discovered.

John James
Exhibition curator Rebecca Darley examines the rare 13th-century prayer scroll

An extremely rare Byzantine-era scroll has gone on show in Birmingham for the first time since it was discovered.

The 13th century illustrated prayer scroll is written in medieval Greek on vellum, and depicts Princess Eudokia Doukas – a member of a prominent aristocratic family in Constantinople

It has been put on display at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, in Edgbaston, at its new exhibition, Faith and Fortune: Visualising the Divine on Byzantine and Early Islamic Coinage, which lasts until November 30.

The scroll is one of only two known examples from the entire Byzantine period of a private prayer scroll where the identity of the original owner is known.

The exhibition’s curator, Rebecca Darley, said: “While this exhibition focuses on currency, religion and culture in a precise and limited period of history – Byzantium in the fifth to eighth centuries – the resonances in recent history are quite remarkable.

“We hope this exhibition will illustrate how the everyday currencies of these early Islamic and Christian empires reflected their own political identities, cultures and faiths, in a highly comparable way to how the small change in our own pockets is a reflection of our own culture and society.”

The exhibition includes around 80 coins from the Barber Institute’s collection of Byzantine, Roman, medieval and Islamic coins, and also features loans of objects from other public and private collections in Birmingham, including some very early editions of the Qur’an.

 
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