The Throne of Maximianus by Mary Elizabeth Podles

A Thousand Words

The Throne of Maximianus

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

The sixth-century Throne of Maximianus stands close to five feet tall; its wooden armature is completely paneled in ivory, front, back, and sides. Since antiquity, ivory has been a luxury due to its rarity, difficulty of acquisition, and cost of transport, as well as its inherent qualities of fine grain, creamy color, and silky luster, all of which catch and hold the light. The panels of the throne are narrow, obviously limited by the width of the tusks; eight of them have vanished over the course of the centuries. Still, it remains the most im . . .