Art

Some Greek manuscripts are lavishly illuminated, while others contain simpler decorations in addition to text. Many fine examples of Byzantine art can be found in the British Library's collections.

Golden Canon Tables (Add MS 5111 f010v)

Greek illuminated Gospels

Article by:
Kathleen Maxwell

Kathleen Maxwell describes some of the remarkable illuminated copies of the Gospels to be found in the British Library’s collections.

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Manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament

Manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament

Article by:
Dr Peter Toth

Translated into Greek in Hellenistic Egypt, the Greek Old Testament was copied widely in Byzantium. Peter Toth surveys the history of this important text.

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Illuminated Byzantine psalters

Illuminated Byzantine psalters

Article by:
Kalliroe Linardou

Byzantine book illumination was at its most ambitious and innovative in the decorated psalters produced between the 9th and 11th centuries. Here, Kalliroe Linardou explains the two main types of illuminated psalters and describes some of their key features.

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Book illumination in antiquity

Book illumination in antiquity

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan

The history of illuminated manuscripts goes back to antiquity. In this article, Cillian O’Hogan describes the surviving fragments of ancient and late antique illuminated Greek books now held in the British Library.

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Byzantine illuminated manuscripts from the provinces

Byzantine illuminated manuscripts from the provinces

Article by:
Elisabeth Yota

In this article, Elisabeth Yota surveys some of the evidence for the production of illuminated manuscripts outside of the imperial capital of Constantinople.

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Greek military and technical treatises (Burney MS 108 f041v)

Greek mechanical texts

Article by:
Ian Ruffell

A fascinating group of manuscripts from the 15th and 16th centuries preserve a range of ancient and Byzantine works on mechanics. Here, Ian Ruffell gives an introduction to the discipline of Greek mechanical writing.

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Art in Greek manuscripts

Article by:
Cillian O’Hogan

Many of the British Library’s Greek manuscripts contain beautiful illuminations. Here, Cillian O’Hogan provides a brief overview of the history of illumination in Greek manuscripts.

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Book epigrams image (Add MS 22350 f7)

Book epigrams in Byzantine manuscripts

Article by:
Julie Boeten, Sien De Groot

Byzantines were famous for inscribing verses in and on important objects including books. In this article, Julie Boeten and Sien de Groot explore the content, function and value of these so-called book epigrams.

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Further themes

Art

Learn more about Byzantine art from the illuminations and decorations found on Greek manuscripts.

Religion

Discover more about what our rich collection of surviving religious manuscripts tells us about Byzantine life.

Scholarship

Explore the intellectual traditions of the Graeco-Roman world that continued throughout the Byzantine era and into the Early Modern world.

The Greek World

Explore the influence of the Greek world on Western Europe and the Middle East.

The makers of Greek manuscripts

Learn more about book production in antiquity. What was more popular: parchment or paper?