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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Knee Fibula
Work Type
pin, fibula
late 2nd-early 3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast and hammered
2.9 x 2 x 2.5 cm (1 1/8 x 13/16 x 1 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 72.48; Sn, 6.81; Pb, 19.94; Zn, 0.519; Fe, 0.06; Ni, 0.04; Ag, 0.06; Sb, 0.09; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.10; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

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

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 surface of the fibula is a uniform greenish gray color with spots of red. 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 the opening cut into the center of the cross bar as the rod was pushed through. The pin was fabricated from an elongated piece of copper alloy sheet metal, and the long edges were hammered inward to round the sheet out and bring it to a point. A hook shape was cut into the flat catchplate to create the clasp for the pin. The zigzag decorations on the side of the catchplate may have been created using a long, straight punch in the 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
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, faceted bow is thickest at the highest point of the curve and tapers to a small circular head above the hinge; it is semicircular in section (1). The bow tapers toward the foot, where it flares slightly; a small knob protrudes from the foot. 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 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 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

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