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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Fragmentary Pin
Work Type
mid 9th-8th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Argolis, Heraion (Argolis)
Geometric period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Bead: Bronze; Pin: Copper or low-tin bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
13.7 x 1.6 x 0.6 cm (5 3/8 x 5/8 x 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Bead
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron

XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Copper or Low-Tin Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper
Other Elements: tin, lead, iron
Comments: Very low tin may be due to corrosion.

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The surface has a rough green patina with deep layers of underlying red. Light brown accretions are also present. The pin is mostly or completely mineralized. Fragments missing from the lower part of the shaft reveal mineralization to the center of the object. Minimal cleaning has been done to the fragile surface.

The pin is a solid cast, probably from a model made directly in wax. The surface condition is too poor to determine the extent of any cold working.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)

Mary H. Buckingham, (by 1947), gift; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1947.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mary H. Buckingham
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 fragment of a large pin is broken at both ends. The slightly tapering shaft is decorated with a globe and a smaller, biconical bead. The square-sectioned shaft develops rounded edges at the tapering end, which is bent. Possible engraved decoration or other details are obscured by heavy corrosion. The bending may well be ancient, since this object is said to be from the Argive Heraeum, where comparable pins were found in a twisted condition (1). This pin fragment could have been acquired by the donor on a trip to Greece in 1892, when the American excavations at the Argive Heraeum had just started and may have drawn travelers to this site.

Pins of the Geometric period are well known from finds in graves and sanctuaries, especially those of female deities. They consist of a disc head with finial, a shaft that may be partly square in section and often bears incised decoration, and one or more globes or biconical beads on the upper part of the shaft. The beads may be framed by simple or multiple ring moldings. Because of its size, this example would have been classified as a “spit” rather than a “pin” by the excavators of the Heraeum. From a typological point of view, however, such objects are pins, albeit too large and heavy for actual use on a dress. Dedicated in sanctuaries and placed in graves, their display value as objects containing a substantial amount of metal outweighed practical considerations (2). It has even been suggested that the pins of the Geometric period may have been a primitive type of currency, like heavy rings such as 1895.202.A, 1895.202.C, 1920.44.219, and 1977.216.2123.13 (3).


1. Compare H. F. de Cou, “The Bronzes of the Argive Heraeum,” in The Argive Heraeum 2, ed. C. Waldstein (Boston, 1905) 191-332, esp. 313-16 and 318, nos. 2552 (twisted), 2564, 2577, 2591, 2595, 2597, and 2613 (bent); pls. 130-31; and I. Kilian-Dirlmeier, Nadeln der frühhelladischen bis archaischen Zeit von der Peloponnes, Prähistorische Bronzefunde 13.8 (Munich, 1984) 107-14 and 117-19; types II E, III A, and IV; pls. 28-35, 38, and 40-41.

2. Kilian-Dirlmeier 1984 (supra 1) 162.

3. C. Waldstein, ed., The Argive Heraeum 1 (Boston, 1902) 61-62.

Susanne Ebbinghaus

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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