Antiquities > Fibulae and Clothing Items

"Bow"(?) fibula --greek?


Hello fellow collectors!

Well outside my normal area (coins!), but I purchased this enigmatic artifact for curiosity's sake. It was represented as a "Greek bow fibula, silver". The individual pieces weigh 70 and 20 grams respectively. Various web searches yield examples tantalizingly similar, but none quite exactly like it..though perhaps I just haven't looked hard enough. If any of you are familiar with this type and have thoughts on where/when in Greece it may have been worn/used to fasten cloaks (or amuse little children), I'd appreciate hearing from you. Tips on where I might perform further research also welcome. Amazing feeling holding this object in one's hand.


Hard to tell with that amount of the bow remaining.  Maybe someone will have a better idea based on an exact parallel.

Silver fibulae with decorated bows are common in the Balkans where they date from 6th c BC to 2nd c AD.  They are usually variations of more common Greek, Celtic or Roman fibulae styles with extra decorations on the bows.

It is hard to tell from what is remaining what yours was.

If you look at this wiki image (which is actually of fibulae from my collection - I wrote the original wiki entry on fibulae) you can see a Greek bow fibulae on the far right.  It has an extremely simple "wire" kind of bow.  If you imagine this, in silver, with a fatter and decorated bow, and perhaps a large square catch plate instead of the triangular one on this example, you have one possibility for yours.  It would be a Balkan (perhaps Thracian copy of a Greek fibulae and date to 6th to 4th c BC.

On the other hand if you look at this image from the wiki page (not my fibulae) you get an idea of how your bow fragment could actually have been part of a much later type based on a Celtic design of the 2nd c BC.

There are other options too. Copy of Pannonian kraftig profilierte type of 1st - 2nd c AD.  Copy of "Phrygian" type of 7th - 5th c BC.

I am sorry to say that without the two ends of the fibula I can't tell what it was, but perhaps someone who knows of a closer parallel to your example can help.


Shawn, thank you very much for your insightful observations. You've given me ideas on where to begin looking. I've scanned portions of the Met and British Museum's online examples of fibulae without finding an exact match so far. But the journey's the reward!


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