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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Strap End
Work Type
9th century
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Middle Ages, Early
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Brass, gilt silver wire and silver inlays
Cast, lost-wax process
4.17 x 1.01 cm (1 5/8 x 3/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Main
XRF data from Artax 1 and Tracer
Alloy: Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, zinc
Other Elements: lead, iron
Comments: The object has gilt-silver wire and silver alloy inlays.

Inlay 1
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Silver
Alloying Elements: silver, copper
Other Elements: gold, lead, iron

Inlay 2 (wire)
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Gilt Silver
Alloying Elements: silver, gold, copper
Other Elements: lead, iron

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: Most of the surface of the base metal appears rough and black. Whether it is encrusted with corrosion products and then coated with something is not clear. There is some wear overall, especially on the edges. There is considerable green build-up in the upper part of the decorated side, perhaps related to a previous inlay or to restoration work.

The three-dimensional details of the terminal are sharply defined and look more carved than modeled. It was perhaps modeled first in the wax and then chased, and it may have been enhanced during cleaning.

The brow of the stylized animal head is inlayed with a well-defined triangle of silver that has tarnished to a dark color and stands somewhat proud of the surrounding material. Under good light, three golden-colored circles can be seen in that dark field. Each of the circles is made of a curved wire or cut piece of sheet metal that XRF analysis indicates might be gilt silver.

The main body of the piece was ground down during restoration, removing quite a bit of original material and cutting down to the polished metal right above the animal’s ears. The remains of two more elongated panels of decorative material, which are also inlayed with wire, are present. One side seems to have a finer silver wire inlay, which is not flush with the surface. The other has thicker golden inlays like the triangular inlay on the animal head. It is not clear what accounts for the difference between the two.

Both the front and back of the bifurcated top have been broken off and restored, probably with the original pieces. Excess unidentified black, organic adhesive material emerges from the join on the back and is also smoothed over the join area in the front. The two rivets that would have affixed this object to its original strap are still intact. Some burial material is lodged in the interstices of the bifurcation.

Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2012)


Recorded Ownership History
[Joseph Linzalone, Wolfshead Gallery, Ridgewood, NY, sold]; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 2004.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Purchase through the generosity of Mrs. Waltrud Lampé and the Marian H. Phinney Fund
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 strap end appears to be intact; the upper half is rectangular while the lower half has more elaborate shape, ending in a zoomorphic head. There is a raised vertical line between the rivets above a pelta shape with indistinguishable interior decoration. In the central portion, a rectangular silver inlay, much of it missing, bears spiral decoration. The brow of the stylized animal head has some silver inlay as well, and ears, eyes, and nose in relief can also be seen (1). The back is featureless and flat.

Strap ends are a relatively common item in medieval northern Europe; they would have adorned the ends of leather or cloth straps, on belts and perhaps other types of equipment (2).


1. Compare with the strap end in the Ashmolean Museum, although without inlays, Oxford, published in D. A. Hinton, A Catalogue of the Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork 700-1100 in the Department of Antiquities Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, 1974) 60, no. 31 (no number).

2. Ibid., 62-63.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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