illumination

Early Illumination

The earliest known illustrated rolls come from Egypt; they include the oldest example, the Ramesseum Papyrus (c.1980 B.C.) and fragments from the Book of the Dead, found in tombs. Little or nothing survives of ancient Greek illumination, although scientific treatises and epic poetry are said to have contained pictures. It is thought that by the 2d cent. A.D. the long papyrus roll began to be replaced by the parchment codex (or leaved book). Thus a new, compact format was introduced as the framework for the picture. From the late classical period (probably 5th cent. A.D.) come the illustrations of Vergil (Vatican) and the Iliad (Ambrosian Library, Milan).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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