The Compendium of History through the Genealogy of Christ by Peter of Poitiers
England, 13th century
Admirable for its concision and graphic boldness, this imposing scroll presents a history of the known world from the creation of Adam until the birth of Jesus. It is a teaching tool—a graphic summary of a classroom text. The ancestry of Jesus, traced back to the first man, is shown through a stemma (a system of lines and framed circles that runs down the center of the scroll’s length). Noteworthy ancestors, including King David with his harp, are pictured at regular intervals along the stemma. Successions of biblical rulers, as well as the lineage of ancient rulers of the Near East, Greece, and Rome appear on less elaborate stemmata that diverge from, converge with, and run parallel to that central history.