Etruscan Bronze Boat-Shaped Fibula


An Etruscan bronze boat-shaped fibula featuring a raised symmetrical hollow bow with a low triangular catch-plate. There is a small two-coiled spring remnant of which a pin would have been attached to. Two deeply incised grooves decorate the body of the bow. Green patination and earthy encrustations covers the surface.

Date: Circa 8th – 5th Century BC
Provenance: Private Collection, UK
Condition: Good condition. Patination and encrustation to the surface. Repair above the spring and pin is now lost.


SKU: XJ-16 Category: Tag:

The Etruscans occupied the central region of Italy, around modern-day Tuscany from the 8th century BC to around 2nd century BC. Etruria was rich in metals and Etruscans exported bronze products all over the Mediterranean. Many bronze objects were made, as was this fibula, from lost-wax casting. This method covers a wax model with clay, then fired the clay into a hard mould and in the process melt the wax out. Next molten bronze was poured into the mould, taking the shape of the original wax. The fibula, was a specialised pin, used to fasten clothing, especially mantles, a loose outer garment. The serpentine or dragon type (serpeggiante o drago) fibulae with little or no decoration are usually associated with men. Boat-shaped or leech-shaped (sanguisuga) fibulae are more associated with women because the curved and rounded form give more space for decoration.

Etruscan history and literature had barely survived. Hence despite being the most influential pre-Roman civilization of the western Mediterranean, they remain elusive to this day. Fortunately, their vibrant culture could be glimpsed from elaborate wall paintings in the Etruscan necropolises of Tarquinia, Cerveteri, Chiusi, and Vulci. They depict lively mythological scenes, rituals and daily life especially decadent symposia. Many fibulae, being intimate objects of their owners were unearthed in these sole surviving remnants of a glorious yet enigmatic civilisation.

Weight 27 g
Dimensions L 6.5 x W 3.3 cm



Reference: For similar items, The British Museum, London, item 2009,5018.92 and ; The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 20.260

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