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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Upper Part of a Pin
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Straight Pin
Work Type
late 7th-6th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Kalchedon (Bithynia)
Archaic period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
9.5 x 2.9 x 0.4 cm (3 3/4 x 1 1/8 x 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patinas of these pin fragments (1950.84.19, 1950.84.20, 1950.84.21, and 1950.84.22) are dark green, brown, and red. The distribution, shape, and color of the corrosion products on all four suggest a common burial context.

The discs and shafts appear to have been cast in one piece using the lost-wax process. The four fragments do not have any contiguous break edges. 1950.84.19 bears evidence of post-casting file marks on the underside of the disc, which can be seen through gaps in the corrosion layer. These file marks are also visible on 1950.84.20. The head profiles differ; the disc of 1950.84.20 is slightly “dished,” or concave, with a raised lip and radial incised decoration. Although largely obscured, this decoration appears to have been created in the wax.

Tony Sigel (submitted 2002)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. James W. Fowle
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
A number of bronze pin fragments are said to have been discovered on a slope right above the sea at Chalcedon (modern Kadıköy), a Megarian Greek colony across the Bosporus from Byzantium (modern Istanbul). The pin fragments were reportedly found just over 40 cm apart together with the remains of human bones, which led P. Jacobsthal to conclude that they were placed in a grave on the shoulders of the deceased (1).

1950.84.19 and 1950.84.20 preserve the upper parts of two dress pins with three flattened globes below a disc-shaped head. The globes are incised with fine vertical grooves and increase in size toward the top of the pin. On 1950.84.20, a ring separates the globes and marks the beginning and end of the sequence; on 1950.84.19, the single rings are replaced by pairs of rings. Both pins have a flat disc with a slightly upturned rim. The upper surface of the disc around the central knob is left plain on 1950.84.19 and is decorated with a rosette on 1950.84.20. The shafts of both pins are circular in section and taper toward the lower point. The now-bent shaft fragment 1950.84.21 may originally have been a lower part of 1950.84.20. 1950.84.22 consists of a thin, round shaft, with a piece of wire wrapped tightly around one portion; the shaft and spiral are incompletely preserved. 1950.84.22 was reportedly part of the same find, and it might represent the tip of a pin, equipped with a point-guard or fastener (2). Alternatively, it may be a fragment of a loop-head pin (“Schlaufennadel”) (3).

There are relatively few Archaic pins with three globes, but these appear to have been more frequent in the northern Aegean. Examples from the late sixth century BCE from Macedonia have heads decorated with an incised rosette or a gold sheet bearing a rosette pattern, but the pins are more slender with more strongly articulated vertical subdivisions of the globes, and the discs have more elaborate rims (4). These comparisons suggest that the Harvard pin fragments are somewhat earlier: a date between the late seventh and mid-sixth centuries BCE would correspond roughly to the date range of their alleged find context (5).


1. Id., Greek Pins and their Connexions with Europe and Asia (Oxford, 1959) 32; there is additional documentation in the object file.

2. Ibid., 32-33 n.1, and 118-19.

3. Compare I. Kilian-Dirlmeier, Nadeln der frühhelladischen bis archaischen Zeit von der Peloponnes, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 13.8 (Munich, 1984) 281-83, pls. 112-13.

4. See ibid., 261-62, with references; I. Vokatopoulou et al., Sindos: Katalogos tes ektheses, exh. cat., Archaeological Museum, Thessaloniki (Athens, 1985) 78-79, 86-87, 180-81, and 308, nos. 113, 129, 292, and 515 [in Greek]; and Greek Jewellery: 6,000 Years of Tradition, exh. cat., Villa Bianca, Thessaloniki (Athens, 1997) 82, no. 60.

5. The material is so fragmentary that it can only have come from a severely disturbed burial, if there was a common context at all. The following objects are mentioned: 17 pottery fragments mostly of Corinthian style (1950.84.1 to 1950.84.12 and 1950.84.14 to 1950.84.18), the nozzle of a clay lamp (1950.84.13), and an Ionian terracotta figurine of a seated female (present whereabouts unknown); compare Jacobsthal 1959 (supra 1) 32-33.

Susanne Ebbinghaus

Publication History

  • Paul Jacobsthal, Greek Pins and their Connexions with Europe and Asia, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, 1959), p. 32-33, fig. 82.
  • Imma Kilian-Dirlmeier, Nadeln der frühhelladischen bis archaischen Zeit von der Leoponnes, Verlag C.H. Beck (Munich, 1984), p. 255, 261.

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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