Dovecote Church

Joshua and the Archangel Michael

Michael, who defeats the great dragon in the Book of Revelation was the Archangel most associated with military activities. He is not mentioned by name in relation to Joshua, but it would be natural for an illustrator to assume that it was he who appeared at this time.
Apart from the wings, there is nothing to distinguish him from a well-equipped Byzantine soldier of the officer class.

The Archangel Michael, sword in hand, appears to Joshua before the battle of Jericho. Joshua is shown twice - first, standing, at the moment when he sees the angel, the second as he prostrates himself before the Heavenly messenger. Both Michael and Joshua are shown in armour. According to Jerphanion, Joshua's exploits are here being used allegorically to represent Emperor Nikephoros' campaigns in Cilicia.

Detail, showing St Michael's kremasmata, leg coverings and boots. The kremasmata appear to be of leather scales (though this colour may be a deteriorated attempt to portray gilding). He appears to be wearing trousers, but it could be proposed that this is actually fine mail - certainly this form of representation has been used elsewhere. His calves are covered with what, at first glance, seem to be boots. However, on closer inspection it becomes evident that he is wearing kampotoubia (see the discontinuity at the ankle). There appear to be laces in "cross-garter" fashion securing them to the leg.

St Michael carries a sword, which he rests across his shoulder. Its form is difficult to make out. It appears to have a short crossguard, and the blade appears to be straight, but damage to the picture makes these details equivocal. Michael's torso armour is of the same type of scale as his skirt, though most of it is obscured by his cloak. There is some suggestion of mail links at the throat, suggesting a lorikion worn under the other armour. The Archangel's name can be seen above his head. This is one of the very few pictures in this church where the face has not been obliterated.

Joshua standing


Joshua prostrate




Back to Illustrations of Byzantine Costume and Soldier in Dovecote Church, Cavusin, Cappadocia, Turkey


Compare this to ‘Joshua and the Angel’ in Menologion of Basil II, Byzantine, c.1000AD, Vaticano Griego 1613








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