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Identification and Creation

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

Physical Descriptions

Leaded brass, silver inlay
Cast, lost-wax process
4.99 x 1.54 cm (1 15/16 x 5/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: Main
XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, silver

XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, silver, antimony
Comments: The antimony detected here is due to the Tracer's greater sensitivity for antimony than the Artax.

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

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The surface is generally dark brown with areas of dark green corrosion, most of which was probably removed during post-excavation cleaning. One rivet has partially survived. Its upper surface is black, with cuprite-like material below, but its bottom end is missing. The other rivet is lost, and the rivet hole is damaged.

The body of this strap end was cast in one piece, and its details were probably partially modeled before casting. The recesses were roughened up to create more surface area and facilitate the adherence of the inlay materials. The inlays are incomplete, and their original pattern is difficult to decipher. Two larger areas of silver inlay preserve detailed punchwork and incisions. A black material makes up the background field of these figures. XRF analysis indicates this material contains silver; it is either niello or tarnished metal. A small spot of this dark material appears to be stuck between the ears of the animal head on the terminal. This area, the pelta form area near the bifurcation, and possibly the areas between them could all have been inlayed.

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 elliptical strap end tapers toward a zoomorphic head terminal, which may have had silver inlay. The ears, brow, eyes, and nose are clearly visible and somewhat globular in their rendering. The pelta shape below the rivet holes contains what may be a stylized flower. Partially preserved silver inlay representing two animals decorates the central portion of the strap end. They are not well enough preserved to identify the animals, but limbs and stippling (presumably to represent fur) are clear and sharp where the silver remains (1). The back is flat and featureless.

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 D. M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork 700-1100 in the British Museum (London, 1964) 169, no. 71, pl. 30; no. 116, pl. 40; 189-90, nos. 97-98, pl. 37. Compare also the strap ends, although lacking inlays, in the Ashmolean Museum, 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) 12, no. 5 (1940.11); 60, no. 31 (no number); and 65, no. 37 (1896-1908, Pr. 478).

2. Wilson 1964 (supra 1) 62-63.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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