Inside the Archiepiscopal Museum of Ravenna the socalled Throne of Maximian is preserved, a bishop’s throne that was probably made in Constantinople and then brought to Ravenna for Maximian (or Maximianus), archbishop of the city between 546 and 556, particularly renowned for having consecrated two of the most famous basilicas in Ravenna, namely San Vitale and Sant’Apollinare in Classe.
The throne is also referred to as a “cathedra” (in Italian “Cattedra”), to underline the important role of the bishop as teacher and guide to his community, and is to be interpreted as a symbol of his dignity and authority.
The throne is one of our most precious findings from the ancient world, with its wooden structure covered only by finely engraved ivory panels. The original panels were 26, corresponding to two narrative cycles: 16 on the seatback – 9 of them are unfortunately missing – are decorated with scenes from the life of Jesus, for a total of 24 scenes. 10 panels on the armrests illustrate scenes from the narrative cycle of Joseph the patriarch, while in the front part we find the four Evangelists and Saint John, with a medallion representing the “Lamb of God”.