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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Knee Fibula
Work Type
pin, fibula
second half 2nd-early 3rd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast and hammered
4 x 2.3 x 2 cm (1 9/16 x 7/8 x 13/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 76.52; Sn, 9.28; Pb, 13.67; Zn, 0.188; Fe, 0.06; Ni, 0.03; Ag, 0.13; Sb, 0.12; 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

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
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. 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. A thin notch precedes the foot, creating a small knob. 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).


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

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