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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

Leaded brass, lead-tin alloy inlays
Cast, lost-wax process
4.83 x 1.3 cm (1 7/8 x 1/2 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Leaded Brass
Alloying Elements: copper, lead, zinc
Other Elements: tin, iron, silver, arsenic
Comments: The object has a lead-tin alloy inlay.

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: It has a pale, olive green patina overall. A few edges are worn through to brown oxidized metal. The scratches on the reverse have in part been created post-excavation. The extreme thinness of the metal in the bifurcated area and the losses at one corner resulting from mineralization suggest that the surface of the strap end was heavily cleaned to remove corrosion accretions.

The strap end was cast in one piece. The slight bend in the upper bifurcated portion, where it would have attached to a strap, is original. It is not clear how much of the decorative work was done before casting and how much was done in the metal. The fish-scale pattern on the bottom third of the object seems to have been created using a crescent-shaped punch and was enhanced during post-excavation cleaning. The lines of the checker pattern and dots at the center of each lozenge are filled with a whitish-gray inlay material made of lead and tin; the color is perhaps due to corrosion.

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 is elliptical and covered with geometric decoration on one side, giving it a passing resemblance to a fish. The upper portion of the decorated side has a lattice pattern; the squares each have a small circular point in the center. The lower portion is decorated by two columns of crescent shapes. The border is slightly raised. The back is flat and featureless (1).

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) 170, no. 72, pl. 30; and 202-203, nos. 136-38, pl. 42; and 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); and 60, no. 31 (no number).

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

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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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