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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Knee Fibula
Work Type
fibula, pin
late 2nd-early 3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Leaded brass
Cast and hammered
4 x 2.5 cm (1 9/16 x 1 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Brass:
Cu, 73.75; Sn, 1.73; Pb, 12.4; Zn, 11.02; Fe, 0.43; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.04; Sb, 0.27; As, 0.3; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.021; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is pale green with some brown corrosion. The object is intact, although the pin is deformed and the catchplate is bent.

The body of the fibula was cast, probably by the lost-wax process, with the surface designs created in the wax model, while the pin was made separately by hammering. The pin is attached to the body of the fibula by a thin rod, which seems to have been inserted into one end of the crossbar. This pin inside the crossbar may have been iron, since iron corrosion products are visible, but it is no longer magnetic. The surface shows rough finishing marks.

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
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 knee fibula is intact. The pin is hinged onto the fibula and attached at the cylindrical head. The curving bow is thickest at the head, which curves smoothly to join the hinge (1). The bow tapers toward the foot, where it flares slightly; it is semicircular in section. The rectangular catchplate is perpendicular to the bow and has a deep notch in one side, forming a hook 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 (2).


1. Compare R. Hattatt, Brooches of Antiquity: A Third Selection of Brooches from the Author’s Collection (Oxford, 1987) 261-72 and 374-75, nos. 1239 and 1402, figs. 84 and 123; I. Fauduet, Fibules préromaines, romaines et mérovingiennes du Musée du Louvre, Études d’histoire et d’archéologie 5 (Paris, 1999) 46, no. 59, pl. 9.

2. See Hattatt 1987 (supra 1) 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

Verification Level

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