Roman Bronze Military Phalera


A complete cast bronze military horse harness mount (phalera). The mount is circular in plan, with three stirrup-shape loops for attachment, and small raised pin at the very centre (also for attachment). The mounts features a central openwork panel of curvilinear design (reminiscent of La Tène style) exhibiting quadruple rotational symmetry. The pattern is centred around a small central disc and is framed within a thick outer border. Into this openwork design are incorporated four double Celtic ‘trumpet curves’ (Trompetenmuster), which are considered to resemble plant-life, and to be based on the Greek Lotus motif.

The object comes with a custom-made stand for display.

Date: Late 1st – 3rd century AD
Condition: Small corner of one stirrup-shape loop missing. Otherwise excellent condition with patches of attractive green patina.


Bronze objects were ubiquitous in the Roman world, being used by the Roman army, for instance, for both practical and decorative purposes. The phalera was a decorative disc, used either to adorn the breastplate of a soldier, or harness of a horse. They were often impressively embellished, serving as a status symbol and mark of military achievement, like a medal. They could have also been made with gold or silver. The horse harnesses (to which these phalerae were attached) were made of organic materials, such as leather, and so do not survive.

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.


Weight 60.5 g
Dimensions W 9.4 x H 8 cm



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