Ancient Roman Bronze Multi-Phallic Anchor Fibula


A very well preserved Ancient Roman anchor bronze fibula, featuring an original catch-plate and pin. The body of the fibula consists of an onion knob finial with incised details, a flat catch plate, and a bow and a head taking the shape of the anchor, enriched by three phalloi.

Date: Circa 1st - 4th century AD
Provenance: Ex private collection, 1970s, AC, Hampshire.
Condition: Very fine condition. A nice dark patination covers the bronze.


Fibulae or brooches were originally used in Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire for fastening garments, such as cloaks or togae. The fibula designs developed into a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. Shapes could be inspired by every day life. Therefore, as the territory of the Roman Empire was concentrated around the Mediterranean Sea, it was not uncommon for the naval world to inspire craftsmen and trends. The phallus, on the other end, was a common symbol in Ancient iconography, related to virility and fertility. The Romans believed in the existence of an entity called Fascinus, which embodied the divine penis. This entity had magical powers, and was not unusal for the Romans to carry apotropiac amulets in the shape of phalloi. This was not only limited to amulets, oil lamps, household items, jewellery and brooches were also modelled in phallic shapes.

To discover more about the symbolism of the phallus, please visit our relevant blog post: Apotropaic Art: Amulets and Phallic Pendants in Ancient Cultures.

Weight 36.1 g
Dimensions L 4 x W 3.5 x H 2.6 cm




Reference: For a similar item, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, item 1984.588

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