Antiquities > Other Metal Antiquities

Roman glass paste mounts


Kilian O:
Good afternoon,

I have these glass paste mounts and I'd like to get some ID on age and use. I know one seems to be a fibula but the other 5 are very small mounts. They used these to adorn horse harness if I recall but also used on legionary belts?


Most of your items are horse-harness studs.  The one at the top centre had a small loop, which is now broken, which likely supported a small suspension pendant.  The bottom left item might be the remains of a fibula - I can't quite make out what is on the reverse.

There are two possible decorative technologies here.  Enamel work is the glass paste.  Put on in paste form and then fired to make it glassy.  Some of these might also have used millefiori (Italian for thousand flowers) which is where fancy glass rods were made - by wrapping very thin glass rods of different colors together into a single rod.  This rod was then sliced to create thin pieces that could be fitted onto bronze items.  The technology is still used today, especially in Murano Island near Venice.

These items generally date from mid-2nd to late-3rd century.  In Nicolay's typology they are type B2 studs.


PS. Looking at your image again, the blue in the bottom left item is definitely millefiori and the dark parts of the bottom middle item might be too.  The rest look like enamel.


Kilian O:
Thanks for the amazing answer! Always happy to learn new things.

These must have looked stunning in their glory days. Would this be considered for the wealthy or just anyone could adorn their harness with these?

They would certainly have been special.  Some people have written that they must have been for officers but it is not that simple.  Several have been found in civilian settlements - e.g. in the Netherlands.  Maybe these are retired officers.

But I think the more important fact is that soldiers could buy upgraded equipment themselves.  Stuff like this tells us someone spent money.  It could have been an officer but it could also have been a soldier who had gotten lucky with the loot they won during campaign and spent their money this way.


Kilian O:
Amazing, if only these items could talk. Thanks alot and happy holidays  +++


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