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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Leaded bronze
Cast and hammered
4.1 x 1.9 cm (1 5/8 x 3/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 76.91; Sn, 3.93; Pb, 16.34; Zn, 1.86; Fe, 0.62; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.05; Sb, 0.1; As, 0.17; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is greenish black, and the object is intact, although the tip of the pin 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. 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 relatively thin, with a sharp ridge at the midpoint and another ridge above the semicircular head; the bow is faceted, making a polygonal section. A small knob protrudes from 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).


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

Verification Level

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