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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

6.17 x 0.08 cm (2 7/16 x 1/16 in.)
Technical Details

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

K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: There is green corrosion over the entire surface, which was probably waxed during restoration. The surface of the object was cleaned after excavation, which probably caused some of the scratches and file marks on the back. Some of the surface is pitted by corrosion. The punched areas are surprisingly unaffected, but perhaps this can be attributed to the tighter grain structure of the cold-worked metal. The edges are worn, and some of the detail has been lost as a result of corrosion. There are some burial accretions and some peculiar small round organic white accretions trapped in the interstices.

This relatively flat strap end appears to have been formed by folding a sheet of metal. If this is the case, the rivet holes were probably punched into the sheet metal. The undulating vine-shaped decoration on the upper side of the object was created in the metal as well. A fine straight-edged punch was used to create the outline of the stem with a continuous sequence of short strokes. The leaves were formed using a rounded punch with flat sides. The edges near the bottom end of the piece preserve parallel chisel marks and were also cut out at the metal stage. The bifurcated end that attached to the strap was created by bending the top ends of the metal sheet.

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 long, thin strap end has only one rivet hole at its top and terminates in a rounded knob. The decoration on the front consists of two shallow parallel wavy lines formed by a series of small punch marks along the side, giving it the appearance of a vine with leaves. The back is flat and featureless.

This piece is unusually long and thin, differing from the other Anglo-Saxon strap ends in the collection, and its cultural attribution is in doubt (1). If it were a strap end, then it would have decorated a very narrow strap or end of rope.

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. The closest comparison for general shape, although not decoration, is D. M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Ornamental Metalwork 700-1100 in the British Museum (London, 1964) 128, no. 12, pl. 17.

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