The phalera was a decorative disc, used either to adorn the breastplate of soldiers or the harness of horses. Such mounts were often impressively embellished, serving as a status symbol and mark of military achievement. The horse harnesses, to which these phalerae were attached, were made of organic materials, such as leather, and therefore easily perishable.
During the Roman Empire, horses were extremely important for battle, as well as for aspects of everyday life, such as transportation, hunting, farming, and chariot racing. The Romans associated the horse with the spoils of war, connecting it symbolically with power, victory, honour, domination, and virility. Horse harnesses were richly decorated with phaleras and precious metal appliques, reflecting the importance of the horses for their owners for whom these animals constituted a precious status symbol.