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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Antiquities| ▸ |Antiquities by Type| ▸ |Fibulas and Clothing||View Options:  |  |  | 

Ancient Fibulae and Clothing Items

A fibula (plural fibulae) is an ancient brooch. Technically, the Latin term, fibulae, refers to Roman brooches; however, the term is widely used to refer to brooches from the entire ancient and early medieval world that continue Roman forms. Fibulae were used to fasten clothing or, in some cases, purely for decoration. They followed the straight pin in evolution and were eventually replaced by buttons. They are perhaps most famous as the fastener on Roman military cloaks - the sagum and paludamentum. However, they were used centuries before Rome was founded and for centuries after it fell. They were used by Greeks, Persians, Phrygians, Celts, Germans, Slavs and many other peoples in addition to Romans. They were used by soldiers and civilians; by men, women and children. They can thus signify culture, tribe, sex, status or profession - though not always. They were used on robes, shirts and dresses as well as cloaks. One thing they were never used on was the toga, which was simply folded and draped and was not fixed by any pin.


Roman, Gaul, Bronze Bird (Dove?) Fibula, c. 2nd Century A.D.

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This type with a "jaw" pin hing was produced in the northern Gallic provinces and Rhine area, c. 2nd century A.D.
AS71467. cf. Buora 855; 28.8 mm, 7.808g, Choice, attractive surfaces, green and red patina, missing pin, otherwise complete and intact, c. 2nd century A.D.; very finely made, bronze cast bird (dove?) fibula with engraved decorative details, "jaw" pin hing; rare; $200.00 (€176.00)
 


Roman, Bronze Bird Fibula, C. End 2nd - 4th Century A.D.

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This type is predominantly found in the Rhine area, in Noricum, and in Pannonia.
AS61829. Roman fibula; cf. Riha type 3.21, pl. 13, 316; Hattatt BOA 1158 (very similar to these two referenced specimens); 1.25 inches, pin missing, c. end 2nd - 4th century A.D.; crude type without decoration, detail or even much of a tail; from a New Jersey collection; $110.00 (€96.80)
 


Bactria - Indus Valley, Bronze Buckle, c. 2500 - 1000 B.C.

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AA59781. Bactria - Indus Valley brass buckle, 7.2 cm (2 3/4") long; ex Edgar L. Owen, c. 2500 - 1000 B.C.; $70.00 (€61.60)
 


Roman Empire, Small Knee Fibula with Fan Head, c. 175 - 200 A.D.

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The knee fibula is named for sharp down-turn near the top of the bow. Most are small, about 1 1/2 inches long. The type originated in the Rhineland but spread as far east as Pannonia and, in the west, to Britain.
AS67106. cf. Genceva 16b, pl. XIV, 10; 29 mm (1 1/8 inches), spring and pin missing, catch plate bent, small fan-shaped (semicircular) head, high-arched trapezoid faceted bow widening at bend, tapering to splayed foot, parallel pin catch plate; $28.00 (€24.64)
 







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REFERENCES|

Allason-Jones, L. (ed.). Artefacts in Roman Britain: Their Purpose and Use. (Cambridge, 2011).
Bayley, J. & S. Butcher. Roman Brooches in Britain: A Technological and Typological Study based on the Richborough Collection. (London, 2004).
Binding, U. Band 16: Studien zu den figürlichen Fibeln der Frühlatenzeit. (Bonn, 1993).
Blinkenberg, C. Fibules grecques et orientales. (Kobenhavn, 1926).
Bojoviae, D. Rimske Fibule Singidunuma. Muzej Grada Bograda Serija - Zbirke i Legati Katalog XII. (Beograd, 1983). Davidson, G. Corinth XII : The Minor Objects. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Princeton, 1952).
Deppert-Lippitz, B. "A Late Antique Crossbow Fibula in the Metropolitan Museum of Arts" in Metropolitan Museum Journal 35, 2010.
Egan, G. & F. Pritchard. Dress Accessories: 1150-1450 AD. (Boydell, 2002).
Ettlinger, E. Die römischen Fibeln in der Schweiz. (Bern, 1973).
Feugere, M. Les fibules en Gaule meridionale de la conquite a la fin du Ve sicle apres J.-C. (Paris, 1985).
Hattatt, R. A Visual catalogue of Richard Hattatt's Ancient Brooches. (Oxford, 2000).
Hattatt, R. Ancient Brooches and Other Artifacts. (Oxford, 1989).
Hattatt, R. Ancient and Romano-British Brooches. (Dorset, 1982).
Hattatt, R. Brooches of Antiquity. (Oxford, 1987).
Hattatt, R. Iron Age and Roman Brooches. (Oxford, 1985).
Mackreth, D. Brooches in Late Iron Age and Roman Britain. (Oxford, 2011).
Milavec, T. "Crossbow fibulae of the 5th and 6th centuries in the southeastern Alps" in Arheolo?ki Vestnik 60, 2009.
Mills, N. Celtic and Roman Artifacts. (Buxton Press, Derbyshire, 2000).
Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979).
Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst Die Neufunde seit 1975. (1994).
Shopland, N. Archaeological Finds: A Guide to Identification. (Tempus, 2005).
Swift, E. "Personal Ornaments" in Allason-Jones, Lindsay (ed.). Artefacts in Roman Britain: Their Purpose and Use. (Cambridge, 2011).

See Fibula in NumisWiki for additional references.

Catalog current as of Saturday, December 7, 2019.
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Fibulae & Clothing Items