Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, arsenic
Comments: The belt plate and hooks have the same elements.
K. Eremin, January 2014
Technical Observations: The patina on the components of both Samnite belts is green with areas of red. Iron corrosion products are present. The clasps of 2012.1.107.A-C may have been cleaned by scraping. There is some white glue on the inside of one clasp. 1995.1138 is assembled from many fragments and currently sewn onto a cloth backing; one of the clasps is loose.
The belt clasps of 1995.1138 and 2012.1.107.A-C have similar dimensions and styles. It seems likely that they were made in the same workshop. Neither set exactly matches, and none of the four clasps seems to have come from the same mold as any of the others. For example, there are small differences in the length of the ears and the cast groove above the ears. The clasps may have been made as single pieces and matched later; the two clasps of 1995.1138 match each other more closely than they do those of 2012.1.107.A-C, while the clasps of 2012.1.107.A-C match each other more closely than they do those of 1995.1138. The design on the clasp heads of 2012.1.107.A-C is slightly different.
The plates also have slight differences. 2012.1.107.A-C has fewer preserved perforations on the edge, but those that are preserved have a similar frequency to the other plate. The small perforations have flanges or burs indicating the use of a punch. The holes were possibly started by hand drilling using a bow drill and then punched in order not to deform the surface. The plates have different widths and slightly different thicknesses (1995.1138 is 1 mm thick, while 2012.1.107.A-C is c. 0.8 mm thick). There are no visible hammer marks on either plate under raking light, but the plates must have been formed by hammering using a broad hammer. The repoussé crescents around the holes in the plates would probably not have added any strength. They may have served as guides to help align the clasp hooks with the holes. They may also have been decorative, perhaps mimicking an earlier material (like leather). They could have been made to accommodate the shape of the fabric or leather lining.
The clasps were cast as a single piece from the hooks to the eyes; the back of the eyes shows sinkholes that would have followed the shape of a mold. Cold work in the metal was done on the head of each clasp, including some punch work and very fine dotted circles on the head. The same small pointed punch was used to create lines of dots at the cicada’s head. The four circular punches at the base of the dog or dragon’s neck were made with a single circular punch. The body was perhaps cast as a metal rod, flattened into a sheet, hammered into shape using a matrix, then the sides were trimmed and flattened, and finally the surface details were added. The body is thicker near the eyes and clasps than at the bottom, which is another indication of hammering.
The lines of each cicada’s wings were incised with a very sharp point directly on the metal using very short strokes that are visible under a microscope. Viewed from the top, the lines are perfectly straight, and it is likely that a straight edge was used to guide the incising tool. The very bottom of each line curves slightly to meet the bottom edge. This section of each line is cruder in shape and was made using an abrasive or cutting tool, similar perhaps to a file.
The mount holes at the middle of the cicada head and tail have flange deformations on both faces from the bow-drilling process. Iron corrosion products are present from the iron pin used to secure them to the belt.
Henry Lie (submitted 2011)