About 12,000 manuscripts, comprising one of the richest collections in the world, are preserved in the 20 monasteries of Mount Athos. Most of these manuscripts concern texts of an ecclesiastical nature, the remainder being texts of ancient Greek literature.
More than 800 manuscripts are illustrated with Old and New Testament subjects and date to the period between the 9th and 18th centuries. The oldest, such as no. 61 at Pantokrator Monastery, date back to the years shortly after the end, in 843, of the iconoclastic movement and provide invaluable evidence of the nature of Byzantine art.
Most of the illuminated manuscripts are preserved in the larger and older monasteries. Their diverse provenance and the paintings they contain, which mirror the artistic movements of the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries, are proof both of the widespread influence and of the ever-evolving nature of Byzantine art.