Fibula, Late Bronze Age, 1200–1800 b.c.
Copper alloy; 11 1/8 x 7 5/8 x 1 3/4 in. (28.2 x 19.5 x 4.3 cm)
Gift of Josef and Brigitte Hatzenbuehler, 2007 (2007.498.1a,b)
This fibula, known as a "passementerie" type because of its resemblance to the ornamental trim on nineteenth-century women's clothing, is one of the largest and most complex to survive from Late Bronze Age Europe. The elaborate brooch reflects the sophisticated metallurgical production in central and eastern Europe in the eleventh century B.C. Three long thick copper-alloy wires, square in section, were hammered to form the five dynamic spirals. From the straight section of wire between the spirals hang six composite elements, each with a bird surmounting a horse bit with rings and pairs of spear heads or dagger blades. Similar jewelry has been found in hoards and, less often because burial was mainly by cremation, in gravesites excavated in central and eastern Europe. Apparently these prestigious objects functioned as offerings to the gods, and thus the abstracted forms on our fibula and their number may have had religious significance.