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Crossbow Brooch

Date:
ca. 400
Geography:
Made in Rome/Constantinople
Culture:
Late Roman or Byzantine
Medium:
Gold
Dimensions:
Overall: 4 11/16 x 2 3/16 x 1 9/16 in. (11.9 x 5.5 x 4 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.97
  • Description

    Crossbow fibulae were in vogue as sumptuous imperial gifts from 280 to the mid-sixth century. One of seven extant with pierced openwork, this fibula represents an intermediate stage in the development of such objects, datable to about 480. Our example, like one from the grave of Omharus, king of the Gepids, has a Latin cross in the center of the top panel, making it overtly Christian.

    The point of the pin is inserted into a socket in the brooch's foot, and the looped pinhead fits into a perforation at the back center of the head. The pinhead is released by unscrewing the left hexagonal terminal. Because of its sophistication as a mechanism, the screw became a status symbol in jewelry.

  • Provenance

    Simon Bendel, London (1964-1975); Art Market, Switzerland (1994-1995); [ Ward & Company Works of Art(Michael Ward), New York (sold 1995)]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
466286

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