An extremely fine pair of large Roman crossbow fibulae, made from gilded silver. They both feature a hexagonal-section hollow crossbar, and a deep D-section bow with ribbed lower end. The catch mechanism is housed within the hollow footplate and features a hinged pin. The front of the bow is embellished with a notched decoration.
Date: Circa 3rd Century AD Provenance: English Art Market, 1980s. Pierre Bergé & Associés, 29 May 2013, lot 243. Condition: Extremely fine condition with a beautiful patina on the surface. Very exceptional size.
In the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, fibulae (or brooches) were originally used for fastening garments. They came in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety pin principle. The Etruscans were very fond of fibulae, some of which were very large and decorated with elaborate granulation and processions of animals in relief. Roman conquests spread the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated brooches. By the Middle Ages, the Roman safety pin type of fibula had fallen into disuse.
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