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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1985.134
Title
Knee Fibula
Classification
Jewelry
Work Type
fibula, pin
Date
2nd-3rd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304088
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Leaded bronze
Technique
Cast and hammered
Dimensions
3.5 x 2.1 cm (1 3/8 x 13/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 70.75; Sn, 7.35; Pb, 21.02; Zn, 0.422; Fe, 0.26; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.07; Sb, 0.1; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: zinc, iron, silver, antimony
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: These fibulae (1985.134, 1985.135, 1985.136.A, 1985.143, 1985.144, and 1985.145) are generally intact, and the patinas range from green to black.

Each fibula was made in three sections. First, a rod, with one rounded end and the other squarish or hammered flat, was used for the crossbar. Then a wire was coiled around the crossbar, starting in the middle and coiling to one end, at which point it was bent across the top of the fibula to the other end of the crossbar; this wire coiled back to the middle of the crossbar then extended out to become the pin. Finally, the top of the cast bow was hammered over the crossbar, which secured the wire that extends across the top of the fibula as well as the inner end of the coiled wire. The other end of the bow was hammered out to form the catchplate.


Carol Snow (submitted 2002)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Nagler
Accession Year
1985
Object Number
1985.134
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This knee fibula is intact. Below the rectangular head is the long coiled spring with a cord wrapped around the front. The curving bow is thickest at the midpoint, tapering toward the foot, which is upturned at the edge. The bow is semicircular in section. The rectangular catchplate is parallel to the bow and folded at the bottom to hold the pin.

Named after their distinctive bent bows, knee fibulae were popular in Britain and the Danubian provinces of the Roman Empire from the second to third centuries CE (1).

NOTES:

1. See R. Hattatt, Brooches of Antiquity: A Third Section of Brooches from the Author’s Collection (Oxford, 1987) 261-72, figs. 81-84; S. Ortisi, Die früh- und mittelkaiserzeitlichen Fibeln, Römische Kleinfunde aus Burghofe 2 (Rahden, 2002) 34-36, nos. 293-94, pl. 18; and D. Mackreth, Brooches in late Iron Age and Roman Britain (Oxford, 2011) 190 and 192, no. 7679, pl. 132.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu