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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1985.138
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/304268
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Fibula: leaded bronze; Pin: Mixed copper alloy
Technique
Cast and hammered
Dimensions
3.1 x 2.3 cm (1 1/4 x 7/8 in.)
Technical Details

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

Pin
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Mixed Copper Alloy
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, zinc
Other Elements: lead, iron

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The fibula has a very smooth, heavily mineralized, olive green surface with numerous losses that expose a lighter surface.

The fibula was cast in one piece, except for the pin and the fine metal rod to which it is hinged. The latter was probably inserted into the hollow crossbar through an opening at one end. The pin would have been hinged onto the rod at opening cut into the center of the cross bar as the rod was pushed through. The rounded end of the long, flat catchplate was formed by hammering. The body of the fibula and its decorative elements were created in the wax and then refined in the metal through filing. Because of the pin is heavily corroded, it is not clear how it was made, although the elongated structure of the copper alloy corrosion suggests that it was formed like other pins by hammering together a long flat sheet of metal.


Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Nagler
Accession Year
1985
Object Number
1985.138
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. The pin is hinged onto the fibula and attached at the cylindrical head. The curving bow is thickest at the midpoint, tapering toward the foot; the bow is faceted, making a polygonal section. A small knob with a collar decorates the end of the foot. 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

Exhibition History

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

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