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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Circular Belt Buckle
Work Type
2nd-3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Tongue: Mixed copper alloy; Buckle: Leaded bronze
Cast and hammered
5.2 cm (2 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Buckle
XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, tin
Other Elements: iron, nickel, antimony

XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Mixed Copper alloy
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, tin, zinc
Other Elements: iron, nickel

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina is a mottled light to dark green with some brown. In some areas where the top layer has popped off, reddish cuprite is visible, which is good evidence of long-term burial. The small black flecks are copper sulfide crystals that result from post-excavation storage conditions. There are also some tan burial accretions.

This circular belt buckle is made up of a ring and a bent tongue component. The large cast ring has a slight ridge on the center of the exterior and is oblong in section. The tongue is formed from a piece of copper alloy hammered flat at one end and bent around the ring. The surface of the tongue is slightly less corroded, and tool marks are more readily visible. The coarsely parallel striations on the tongue are the result of the smoothing process. The steps in the relief elements were created with chisel blows to splay the metal.

Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2011)

Inscriptions and Marks
  • label: Small tan label "BU 1"


Recorded Ownership History
Walton Brooks McDaniel, New Jersey (?-1943/46), gift; to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1943/46-2012), transfer; to the Harvard Art Museums, 2012.

Note: Walton Brooks McDaniel gave a portion of his collection to the Department of the Classics in 1943 and the rest in 1946. The Collection is named for his late wife, Alice Corinne McDaniel.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This is a circular belt buckle consisting of a ring and an attached tongue (1). The tongue tapers to a slight terminal knob, decorated by three relief lines just below the hammered area.

Tombstones of Roman soldiers dated to the third century CE show them wearing this type of ring buckle (2).


1. Compare examples in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, inv. nos. Fr. 405-408 and Misc. 6322.

2. See M. C. Bishop and J. C. N. Coulston, Roman military equipment: From the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome (Oxford, 2006) fig. 94. See also ibid., fig. 118, for drawings of other examples of this type of buckle.

Lisa M. Anderson

Publication History

  • John Crawford, Sidney Goldstein, George M. A. Hanfmann, John Kroll, Judith Lerner, Miranda Marvin, Charlotte Moore, and Duane Roller, Objects of Ancient Daily Life. A Catalogue of the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection Belonging to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, ed. Jane Waldbaum, Department of the Classics (unpublished manuscript, 1970), M52, p. 169 [J. S. Crawford]

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Verification Level

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