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Syriac Gospel, 12th century
Ms. Additional 7169, British Library, London
This Syrian lectionary is one of the very few illustrated Syrian manuscripts from the 12th century.
The bulk of the townsmen and volunteers who defended Damascus in 1148 would have looked much like this unarmoured warrior at the 'Execution of John the Baptist'.
(Syriac Lectionary, Ms. Add. 7169, f. 9v, British Library, London)
Source: p51, The Second Crusade 1148: Disaster outside Damascus by David Nicolle and Christa Hook
The Visit to the Tomb; London, British Library Ms. Add. 7169, f. 12/1.
Figure 4, "The Visit to the Tomb: Narrative and Liturgy on Three Early Christian Pyxides" by Archer St. Clair in Gesta, Vol. 18, No. 1
The model in fact must have closely resembled the illustration of the scene in a later Syriac manuscript (Fig. 4).l0
Although dated in the thirteenth or fourteenth century, the manuscript was early singled out by Millet, who noted that it preserved "pieusement les types les plus anciens;"
both its narrative and ornamental miniatures find close parallels in Syro-Palestinian works of the sixth and seventh centuries.l1
In the scene of the visit, the two Marys hold pitchers in their right hands and raise their left hands to their chins in a gesture of silence rather than of grief,l2
10. London, British Museum Add. 7169. See Leroy, Les Manuscrits syriaques à peintures, Paris, 1964, 1: 350ff.; 2: pl. 119.
11. Millet, Iconographie, 12 and 364. Leroy points to specific parallels with the Rabbula Gospels, early Sinai icons, the Chludoff Psalter, and the ampullae (Les Manuscrits syriaques, 1: 364f)
12. For the symbolism of the gesture in the East see A. Grabar, "Une fresque visigothique et l'iconographie du silence," Cahiers archéologiques 1 (1945): 124ff.
Referenced as figure 128 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
128A to 128C. Syriac manuscript, A - Death of the Baptist, B - Crucifixion, C - Guards at the Tomb, 12th century AD, Syrian, British Library Ms. Add. 7169, ff. 9v, 11v and 12v (Ler S).
pp. 387-388: Such aḥdāth militias were also important in Syria from the 10th to 12th centuries where their development was greatly encouraged by the Fā?imids in the face of Byzantine expansion.8 Many such warriors probably broadened their military experience by participating in annual raids against Byzantium.9 The Syrian aḥdāth was still important when the First Crusade appeared on the scene at the end of the 11th century,10 and remained so during much of the Crusading era. At this time they might have merged with, or been referred to as remnants of the earlier jund structure.11 Perhaps we have an impression of these ill-equipped 12th century local militias in one of the earliest surviving Syriac Gospels (Fig. 128).
8. Beshir, op cit., p. 53.
9. Leo VI, op cit., Inst. XVIII.
10. C. Cahen, La Syrie du Nord au Temps des Croisades, (Paris 1940), p.195
11. Ibn al Qalāninī, passim; H. A. R. Gibb, "The Armies of Saladin," Cahiers d'Histoire Egyptienne, III (1951), pp. 304-320.
Syriac Gospel of c.1220, Ms. Additional 7170, British Library, London
Jacobite-Syrian Lectionary of the Gospels, Monastery of Mar Mattai near Mosul, Iraq, c.1220. Vatican Library, Ms. Syr. 559
Syriac Gospel Lectionary, Church of the Forty Martyrs, MS 41, 13th century
Other Illustrations of 12th century Costume & Soldiers