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Aucissa Fibula Group

The Aucissa fibula group, a type of Roman fibulae, a bow fibula (class B) type, is made up of the main Aucissa type fibulae and several derivatives types. The standard type Aucissa fibulae are hinged with flat ribbon bow.

Sub-types include:
Aucissa Fibula - Roman bow fibula, hinged, plate at the head, flat ribbon bow. 
Bagendon Fibula - Roman bow fibula, Aucissa fibula sub-type with knobs on the sides of the bow.
Two-Pin Aucissa Fibula - Roman bow fibula, Aucissa fibula sub-type with two pins, one on each side of the bow.
Wolf Fibula - Roman bow fibula, Aucissa fibula sub-type, the foot is decorated with the appearance of a wolf's head.
Dacian Molded Fibula Roman bow fibula, Aucissa fibula sub-type, ridges on the bow.
Hrusica FibulaRoman bow fibula, Aucissa fibula sub-type, knobs on each side of the head, and at the foot (similar crossbow fibula knobs, but ignore the knobs and it is clearly an Aucissa type).

Aucissa Fibula Type

Almgren pl. 11, 242

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula

References: Almgren 242; Jobst 1; Bohme 8; Hofheim Va; Riha 5.2; Ettlinger 29; Feugere 22b2; Hull 51; Bojovic II; Genceva 13

Dates:  c. 30/10 BC - AD 50 (Augustan to Claudian period), though some were used into the Flavian period or later (they are found in Dacia where they likely came during Domitian's or Trajan's invasion or later). 

Distribution: Origin in north Italy.  Used throughout the Empire and in Barbaricum.  Used by the Roman military.  There was a workshop at Siscia.

Notes: Some Aucissa fibulae have a word molded on the head, above the hinge.  These are thought to be the name of the manufacturer, similar to the name found stamped on the base of Roman oil lamps.  The most famous name is "AVCISSA" from which the type-name is derived.  The AVCISSA workshop was located somewhere in northern Italy, though is likely a Celtic-derived name.  Other names are found, especially on Aucissa Fibulae from Pannonia.

In addition to the standard type with flat ribbon bow with several parallel rides running down it, there are variants with half-round cross-section bow, usually with a single line down the middle, with a very narrow half-round cross-section bow, and with a fully round cross-section bow.  However, all of these variations share the same form of head and foot and the high arch of the bow.

Some authors, like Bojovic, have divided the Aucissa type based on the end of the foot.  The normal type (Bojovic II var. 1) having a well-formed catch with a large knob on the end, with a variant (Bojovic II var. 2) having a simpler catch with either a very tiny simple foot knob or no knob at all.  According to Bojovic this latter variant originated at Siscia.

Image:  The classic Aucissa fibula type.  Note the hinge mechanism, the high arch of the bow, and the flat ribbon bow form with raised central rib.  (SC Collection)

Image:  Front view of the same Aucissa fibula with typical form of the head.  A name, such as AVCISSA, would appear on either the wider top line or the narrower central line, though this example has no writing.  (SC Collection)

Image:  View of the foot of the same fibula showing that it is a standard (variant 1) Aucissa type with the large button or knob at the end of the catch.  (SC Collection)

Image:  Though it is hard to be certain, given the damage to the catch, this is possibly a Bojovic variant 2 Aucissa without a knob on the catch.  (SC Collection)

Image:  This tiny Aucissa fibula variant (only 31 mm long!) has a semi-circular cross-section bow, no knob on the foot, and, interestingly, a small ring riveted to the head.  A chain was once attached to this ring and likely attached to a ring on another fibula - likely of the same type though perhaps a completely different type.  (SC Collection)

Image:  This Aucissa variant fibula, heavily damaged, has a nearly circular cross-section bow.  More unusually, is appears to have had a spring instead of a hinge.  (SC Collection)

Bagendon Fibula

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

Typology: Hull 52; Bojovic II var. 3;

Dates:  c. AD 1 - 50/70

Distribution: Primarily in the Western Empire, but appearing in small numbers into Pannonia. Used by the Roman military.

Notes: The Bagendon type is descended from the Aucissa type and usually has knobs on the side of the bow.  The bow may be single, or divided into two or three parallel bows.  In rare early examples the knobs are separate pieces attached with iron pins, though they are usually cast as part of the bow.

Image: A Bagendon fibula.  The head, foot and arch of the bow are clearly very similar to the Aucissa type.  This example has a narrow bow with six knobs attached, one of which has fallen off.  (SC Collection)

Image:  This top view of the the same Bagendon fibula shows the knobs.  Five of the original six still remain.  These knobs are separate bronze pieces and were attached via tiny iron pins.  There is still iron staining visible where the missing knob was.  A small gap between the knob and the bow is just visible at the upper right knob.  (SC Collection)

Two-Pin Aucissa Derivative Fibulae

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Lokosek I (bow tapers like Alesia) 1-125; Lokosek II (bow wide at head like Wolf) 1-100; Koscevic T II.13; Bojovic IV var. 1

Dates:  Most examples are thought to date from the first to early 2nd century AD.  Dating is likely c. AD 1 - 100 for Wolf Type bows; c. AD 1 - 125 for bows that taper like the Alesia Type; and c. AD 100 - 200 for knobbed variation 2.  Some authors believe that the type does not descent from the Aucissa type but is an indigenous Illyrian design from the late 2nd or early 1st century BC.  Nevertheless, even they agree to the 1st century AD dating of most surviving examples.

Distribution: Origin in central Dalmatia among the late Illyrian population.  Found in Illyria, Albania, and Pannonia.

Notes:  Generally found with a bow similar to the Wolf or Alesia Types but has two parallel pins.  The foot ends in a square tray that acts as a catch for the two pins.  A rare sub-type (Bojovic IV var. 2) is known with rows of large knobs along either a plain or a twin divided bow.  The bow of this variation 2 thus somewhat resembles the Bagendon type.

Image:  A two-pin Aucissa Variant fibula.  Note the two indentations in the head for the two pins and the tray-shaped catch.  The decoration, typical of this type, is also close to that of the Wolf type, as well as some Aucissa types.  (SC Collection)

Wolf Fibulae

Found in several sub-types depending mainly on the form of the head and the length of the bow.  Decoration of the foot of the bow often includes a two circular "eyes" under a chevron (representing ears( and over a long "snout" giving the appearance of a wolf's head - from whence the type-name is derived.

Regular (Square Head)

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Bojovic III var. 2; Genceva 15

Dates:  Likely 2nd century AD, but possibly used into 3rd century or later. 

Distribution: Middle Danube, upper Moesia, modern Serbia; especially in Roman camps.

Notes:  Examples with decoration down the entire bow are known as Bojovic III var. 1 and are a Dalmatian variant of the regular type.

Image: A standard Wolf fibula. This example is very high quality manufacture with a thick and well-moulded bow. The wolf's face can just be seen at the foot. (SC Collection)

Image:  This view of the foot of the same Wolf fibula shows the wolf's head design.  Eyes, ears and snout can all be seen.  (SC Collection)

Image:  The simple square head of this Wolf variant is clear.  This example has three "eyes" on the top of the head and two more (not visible in this image) above a crude wolf's head design at the foot.  (SC Collection)

Image:  Another Wolf fibula.  This one has a wider head than usual.  (SC Collection)
Triangular Head Wolf Fibulae
Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Bojovic III var. 3;

Dates:  2nd century AD

Distribution: Northern Serbia, northwestern Moesia

Notes: The head is triangular shaped, or tapering, not square like the above two types.  Bojovic gives two sub-types: III.3.a with a ribbon bow and III.3.b with a thicker bow.
Short Wolf Fibulae (Wolf-like, but tapering Alesia-like Bow)

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Bojovic III var. 4

Dates:  Most likely dated to the 2nd century AD.

Distribution: Middle and Lower Danube

Notes:  Bojovic divides it into two sub-types III.4.a with a wide, low catch and III.4.b with a tall narrow catch.

Large Iron Variant Wolf Fibulae

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Bojovic III var. 5;

Dates:  Likely 2nd century AD.

Distribution:  Northern Serbia (Viminacium region).

Notes:  A large iron version of the Short variant (see above).  The bow looks like a long, simple Alesia fibula though the catch is like the Wolf type.

Dacian Molded Bow Fibula Type

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Bojovic XIV; Kovrig T XIV / 141; Genceva 15c

Dates:  The type dates to the late 2nd century AD (c. AD 175 - 200) but was sometimes used into the early 3rd century (c. to AD 225).

Distribution:  Dacian origin.  Found in the lower Danube region in Roman Dacia and Upper and Lower Moesia.  Found today throughout Romania and northern Bulgaria.  The type is occasionally found in Pannonia but almost never further West.

Notes: This type was listed as an unknown type by Hattatt and so is described as unknown by a great many dealers and websites.  However, it is actually very common in the lower Danube region and has been known in Romania since 1935.  It is known in Serbo-Croatian as "Lučne fibule sa šarnirom i zadebljanjem na luku u vide grebena" which can be translated as "Hinged Bow Fibula with Ridges on Bow".

Bojovic divides it into three variants.  The most common type is his third variant (XIV var. 3).  The first variant, likely the oldest, is quite a bit longer and has a lower, sloping catch instead of the high narrow catch of variant 3.  His second variant is also long but has a thin bow, a square catch and a plain small square head.  Only variant three is common.

Within Bojovic XIV var. 3 there is a large variety of decoration.  The head ranges from nearly square to having pointy wings, the bow occasionally has a ridge (or third facet) down the centre, the "knot" on the bow comes in a variety of designs (usually with two or three ridges), and the foot knob ranges from small to large and can be round, bi-conical, faceted or in the form of an inverted cone.

Image: Dacian moulded bow fibula.  This is Bojovic's third variant (Bojovic XIV var. 3).  Though the bow is short and ends in a typical Pannonian / Dacian style knob the head is clearly derived from the Aucissa type.  This example has fairly pointy wings on the head, a simple two-facet bow, three evenly-spaced lateral ridges on the bow, and a fairly large foot knob in the form of an inverted cone with a tiny button on top.  (SC Collection)

Image:  Side view of the the same Dacian Moulded Bow fibula showing the much lower arch of the bow compared to the Aucissa type.  The tall, narrow catch can be seen.  (SC Collection)

Hrusica Fibula Type

Typology: fibula, Roman fibula, bow fibula, Aucuiss fibula

References: Garbsch A236; Bojovic II var. 4

Dates:  Dating of this type is not clear.  Those who emphasize its clear similarity to the Aucissa type believe it is a late Aucissa variant dating from the late 1st century AD to c. AD 125.  This is likely correct.  However, those that believe it is a crossbow off-shoot assign very late dates of c. AD 250 - 325 or even AD 300 - 425.

Distribution: Upper Danube (Pannonia to the Iron Gates) and NE Italy.

Notes: This type appears to be descended from the Certosa Type, and, in particular, the Aucissa Type.  It has a pair of knobs at the sides of head, plus one at the end of the foot.  If the side knobs are ignored, it looks just like an Aucissa fibula and even shares the "eye" decoration common on many Aucissa examples. However, the large knobs have led some authors to place the type very late as an off-shoot of the crossbow fibula.  As the type is almost exactly like the Aucissa and shares no similarities with the late crossbow type, other than the knobs, it is far more likely that it is an Aucissa variant.   

Image: A Hrusica fibula.  The placement of the three knobs can be seen as well as the thick square-section bow.  (SC Collection)

Image: Close-up of the front of the Hrusica fibula from the image above.  The two knobs at the side of the head can be seen as can the dot-and-circle decoration common on these, and several other types of, fibulae.  (SC Collection)


Almgren, O. Studien über nordeuropäische Fibelformen. (Liepzig, 1923). PDF
Bohme, A. "Die Fibeln der Kastelle Saalburg und Zugmantel" in Saalburg Jahrbuch, XXIX. (1973).
Bojoviae, D. Rimske Fibule Singidunuma. Muzej Grada Bograda Serija - Zbirke i Legati Katalog XII. (Beograd, 1983).
Ettlinger, E. Die rimischen Fibeln in der Schweiz. (Bern, 1973).
Feugere, M. Les fibules en Gaule meridionale de la conquite a la fin du Ve sicle apres J.-C. (Paris, 1985).
Garbsch, J. "Die norisch-pannonische Frauentracht im 1. und 2. Jahrhundert" in MBV 11 (Munich, 1965).
Genceva, E. Les Fibules Romaines de Bulgarie de la fin du 1er s. av. J.-C. à la fin du VIe s. ap. J.-C. (Veliko Trnovo, 2004). PDF
Hull, M. "The Brooches at Bagendon" in E. Clifford, Bagendon, a Belgic Oppidum (1961). pp. 167 ff.
Jobst, W. Die römischen Fibeln aus Lauriacum. (Wimmer, Linz, 1975).
Koscevic, R. Antičke fi bule s područja Siska. (Zagreb, 1980). PDF
Kovrig, I. Die Haupttypen der kaiserzeitlichen Fibeln in Pannonien. (Budapest, 1937). PDF
Lokosek, I. "Lučne fibule na samir's devine igle iz Arčeološkog muzeja u Splitu" in Vjesnik za arheologiju i historiju dalmatinsku (VAHD), issue 81, 1988.
Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF
Ritterling, E. Das Frührömische Lager bei Hofheim im Taunus. (Wiesbaden, 1913).
Separovic, T. "Aucissa fibule S natpisom iz zbirke Muzeja hrvatskih arheoloških spomenika" in SHP III/125 (1998). PDF
Tivaclarne, V. & K. Berecz. Aucissa and Enamelled Brooches in Pannonia and the neighbouring Barbaricum. (Budapest, 2008).
Van Buchem, H. De Fibulae Van Nijmegen. (Nijmegen, 1941). PDF


Van Buchem pl. IX. PDF