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Riha

Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979).

The Roman Fibulae from Imperial Times.

PDF Available

Also see:
Riha 1994


Table of Contents

Einleitung / Introduction...9
Die Augster und Kaiseraugster Fibeln / Roman fibulae...11
Zur  Gruppierung / Grouping Fibulae...11
Konstruktion / Construction...12
Spiralfibeln / Spring Fibulae...12
Scharnierfibeln / Hinge Fibulae...15
Fibeln mit Drehverschluss / Penannular Fibulae...16
Formen / Form...18
Grösse / Size...61
Ornamentik / Ornamentation...21
Material und  Oberflächenbelag - Material and surface coating...23
Ziertechniken / Decorative Techniques...24
      1. Punktierung  und  Stempelverzierung / Dotting and stamping...24
      2. Gravierung / Engraving...25
      3. Kerbung und Fazettierung / Notching and faceting...25
      4. Pressblechauflagen / Press plate supports...25
      5. Durchbrochene Blechauflagen / Openwork sheet metal supports...26
      6. Beinauflagen / Leg rest...26
      7. Buntmetall und Nielloeinlagen / Non-ferrous metal and Niello inserts...26
      8. Email und Glaseinlagen / Enamel and glass inserts...29
      9. Aufgelegte Medaillons aus Glas oder Metall / Glass or metal medallions...34
     10. Bewegliche Perlen aus Glas, Metall oder organischem Material / Moving beads of glass, metal or organic material...34
     11. Zierknöpfe und Zier stifte / Decorative and ornamental pins...35                                  
Fabrikation, Werkstätten und Stempel / Fabrication, Workshops and Stamps...34
Funktion, Tragweise und Fibelmode / Function, wearing style and fibula mode...39
Zur Datierung / Dating [Fibulae]...43
Zusammenfassung / Summary...44
Typologie und Katalog  / Typology and Catalog...53
      Group 1. Eingliedrige Spiralfibeln mit vier Windungen und unterer Sehne / One-piece construction, spring with four turns and tendon below the spring...55
      Group 2. Eingliedrige Spiralfibeln mit oberer Sehne und Sehnenhaken / One-piece construction, tendon above the spring, held by spring hook...64
      Group 3. Zweigliedrige Spiralfibeln / Two-piece construction with a pin holding the spring...78
      Group 4. Hülsenspiralfibeln / Two-piece construction with spring sleeve...91
      Group 5. Hülsenscharnierfibeln / Sleeve Hinge Fibula...111
      Group 6. Röhrenscharnierfibeln / Tubular Hinge Fibula...162
      Group 7. Backenscharnierfibeln / Jaw Hinge Brooches...178
      Group 8. Fibeln mit Drehverschluss / Penannular Fibula - Ring Brooches and Omega Brooches...205
Register / Index...211
Literaturabkürzungen / Bibliography...215
Tafeln / [Line drawing] Plates...221



The text below is for the most part a translation of parts of Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst, but it is simplified and rearranged with an emphasis on using Riha for identification of an unknown fibula.



Three Categories of Fibulae: Spring Fibula, Hinge Fibula, and Penannular Fibulae

Riha divides fibulae into three categories, subdivided into eight groups according to their closure design. Within each group, the fibulae are divided into types according to their form. A purely chronological breakdown with an overview of the successive types would be too confusing, especially since many types overlap in time. A grouping of forms and their typological order would also be of no advantage since very few types can be traced in their overall typological development. Therefore, they are grouped according to the construction. This is the organization used most often by others, but unfortunately never consistently. Apart from group 1 (with the timeless and one-fold, one-piece construction) and group 8 (a special category) the groups are either more or less narrowly defined regionally and/or chronologically.

Spring Fibulae (32.1% of specimens)

Group 1: One-piece construction, spring with four turns, tendon (wire connecting two ends of the spring) below the spring. Early bow fibula were made from one piece of bronze. The entire fibula from the catch, to the bow, to the spring, to the tip of the pin was created by shaping and bending a single piece of bronze with great expertise and skill. Wire foot. (7.4%)

Group 2: One-piece construction, tendon (wire connecting two ends of the spring) above the spring, held by spring hook. Again, the entire fibula from the catch, to the bow, to the hook and plate, to the spring, to the tip of the pin was created by shaping and bending a single piece of bronze with great expertise and skill. The hook holding the spring was an invention of the Augustan period, which did not go beyond the 1st century. Predominantly open/framed foot, or perforated foot, but occasionally also solid foot. (7.3%)

Group 3: Two-piece construction with a pin holding the spring. One-piece construction was rapidly replaced by the much easier to manufacture two-piece construction in the middle of the 1st century A.D. The pin spring holder remained in use until late in the Roman period, primarily in free Germania and the adjacent areas of the Roman provinces. For group 3, the needle holders are not of uniform shape. In addition to the occasional frame-shaped, perforated and solid feet, in the majority of cases high needle holders (n-o below), or less often hook-shaped (p below), occasionally also tubular. (2.6%)

Group 4: Two-piece construction with spring sleeve. This group is characteristic of the Gallic regions (Gaul to the Rhine, otherwise rare). Predominantly open/framed foot, or perforated foot, but occasionally also solid foot. (15.3%)

Hinged Fibulae (63.4% of specimens)

The spring system was already used by pre-Roman cultures, the hinge is a Roman, or at least a Mediterranean invention. This derivation may explain the fact that the hinge system has not found widespread use in the Germanic territories. In the case of the hinge, the separately worked needle moves freely on the hinge axis. It owes its suspension to a thorn-like extension set at the perforated plate of the hinged end of the needle, which pushes the needle away from the fibula or presses it into the needle catch.

Group 5: Sleeve Hing Fibula. This type probably originated in Italy. It became the most popular form of closure for Roman provincial fibulae, and is characteristic of the bow brooches from the early imperial times to the beginning of the 2nd century. Outside the Roman Empire and after that time, this type of hing was seldom used. The sleeve hinge consists of a small sleeve at the top of the head which is forged from a square sheet metal plate and then rolled up. In a center-cut slot, the spiked needle is inserted and held by a shaft (usually iron) passing through the whole sleeve. At the ends of each of the Aucissa fibulae and their early successors were buttons holding the hinge axis; later, the hinge axis was clamped in the sleeve and needed no buttons. The needle always carries a thorn-like projection on its perforated oval plate, which beats against the head of the fibula and, by virtue of this resistance, causes the suspension to spring forth. The sleeve hinge is used exclusively in bow fibulae. The needle is primarily rectilinear, but bends hand in hand with the flattening of the bow to the outside to continue to leave enough space between the bracket and needle. For group 5, triangular to quadrangular (i-m below) solid plate needle holders are characteristic, but now and then they also have a simple perforation. The sleeve hinge is considered a typical Roman construction. The sleeve hinge fibulae are by far the largest group of Roman fibulae in terms of numbers. (44.7%)

Group 6: Tubular Hinge Fibula. Around the end of the second century, perhaps in connection with a change in the production of fibulae, the tube hinge was introduced. It was the primary hing form in the Middle and Late Roman period. Like the hinge in general, this construction is limited to the Roman provinces. The hinge system itself functions like that of group 5. The hinge arms, however, are cast or well soldered and always larger than those of the sleeve hinge and lengthen and thicken over time: at the end are the massive or hollow cross arms of the onion button brooches. The pin is not held in place by lateral buttons, but is clamped. The needle has the same shape as in group 5. Sometimes, however, it has no thorn-like projection to push the needle outward so security measures to keep the needle in the catch-plate were necessary. The fibulae of group 6 are, with a few exceptions, showing high needle holders (n-p below) with disc or foot-shaped feet. This construction is characteristic of the late Roman period. (4.2%)

Group 7: Jaw Hinge Brooches. This jaw hinge form began at the same time as the sleeve hinge. It is characteristic of provincial Roman disc brooches of the 1st and 2nd centuries and was not popular outside the Roman provinces. The jaw hinge consists of two small parallel standing plates ("jaws"), between which the needle is inserted and fixed on an axis (usually iron). The hing is always mounted on the back side of the fibulae or brooch, so it remains invisible in use. The jaw hinge is used exclusively for Roman disc brooches and their relatives (fibula with head plate) in which the construction of the suspension is hidden behind a plate (disc or head plate). The associated needle is usually bent and has the same shape as that of the sleeve hinge fibulae. For group 7, triangular to quadrangular (i-m below) solid plate needle holders are characteristic, but now and then they also have a simple perforation. (14.5%)

Penannular Fibula - Ring Broaches and Omega Brooches (4.5% of specimens)

Group 8: Penannular Fibula - Ring Brooches and Omega Brooches. Rotary fastener. Ring and omega brooches held the fabric pieces together in a completely different way than the other closure constructions. The cloth was pierced at the desired location. The needle tip was passed between the ends of the ring. The ring was then rotated 90 degrees under the needle tip. The fabric pressed the needle on the hanger and kept the fibula closed.




Five Categories of Needle Catch/Foot Design: Wire Foot, Perforated Foot, Solid Foot, Tubular Catch and Other Needle Holder Type

An indispensable part of the fibula construction is the needle catch, in which the needle is held on closing and in use. Only group 1 does the wire foot (a-b below) appear. For the next types, the needle catch is created from a broadly hammered and bent wire section. In groups 2 and 4, there are predominantly the common, open foot/framed (c below), or ornamentally perforated needle holders (d-h below, but occasionally also solid foot needle holders (i-p below). The perforations do not appear to have a purpose other than ornamentation. For groups 5 and 7, triangular to quadrangular (i-m below) solid plate needle holders are characteristic, but now and then they also have a simple perforation. For group 3, the needle holders are not of uniform shape. In addition to the occasional frame-shaped, perforated and solid feet, in the majority of cases high needle holders (n-o below), or less often hook-shaped (p below), occasionally also tubular (s below). The fibulae of group 6 are, with a few exceptions, showing high needle holders (n-p below) with disc or foot-shaped feet. The tubular feet with the non-resilient needle were a safeguard against the needle sliding out. For the disc brooches other unusual needle holders are possible.   

Wire Foot


Open Foot/Perforated Catch

Solid Foot

Tubular Catch

Other Needle Holder Types

Any type of needle catch or holder that does not fit the descriptions above.



Groups and Types

NOTE: TRANSLATIONS BELOW NEED IMPROVEMENT.  PLEASE CONTRIBUTE CORRECTIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS.


Group 1. One-piece construction, spring with four turns and tendon below the spring...55
1.1 Nauheim fibulae
1.2 Lauteracher fibula
1.3 Brooch with greenish bow
1.4 Fibulas of the Middle Latène scheme
1.5 Roman knot fibula
1.6 Single-rowed fibulae (Soldier brooches)
1.7 Almgren fibula
1.8 Crossbow fibulae with wide foot
1.9 Fibulae similar to Ramersdorfer fibulae
1.10 Single-headed fibula with folded foot


Group 2. One-piece construction, tendon above the spring, held by spring hook...64
2.1 [Late] Nauheimer Type Fibulae
2.2 Fibulae with smooth, undivided bow
2.3 Augen (Eye) Fibulae
      2.3.1 Early Augen Fibulae
2.4 German Augen (Eye) Fibulae
2.5 Spring bow fibulae
2.6 Knick Fibulae with distinct knot
2.7 Knick Fibulae with soft knot
2.8 Dagger Fibulae
2.9 One-piece Kräftig profilierte (strongly profiled) fibulae
2.10 Norican-Pannonian double-headed fibulae
2.11 Norican-Pannonian winged fibulae
2.12 Humped fibulae


Group 3. Two-piece construction with a pin holding the spring...78
3.1 Two-part construction strongly profiled (kräftig profilierte) fibulae
3.2 Two-part construction Norse-Pannonian double-headed fibulae
3.4 Pannonian trumpet head fibulae
3.5 English trumpet head fibulae
3.6 Shield fibulae
3.7 Germanic brooch
3.8 Crossbow spiral fibula with High Needle Holder
3.9 Crossbow spiral brooches with triangular cut to shape
3.10 Ironing nails
3.11 Temple button brooches
3.12 Roman knee fibula with head plate
3.13 Brooches with kidney-shaped pierced head plate
3.14 Round disc brooches with press plate rest
3.15 Enameled disk brooches with spiral apparatus
3.16 Round disc brooch with glass medallion in enamel frame
3.17 Hallmarked oval disc brooch with glass insert
3.18 Broken disc brooches
3.19 Roman provincial swastika brooches
3.20 Ax brooches
3.21 Zoomorphic fibulae with spring pin


Group 4. Two-piece construction with spring sleeve...91
4.1 Helix Spiral Brooches
4.2 Spiral Spiral Broaches
4.3 Nertomarus Brooches
4.4 "Long-Down-Down" Ribbons
4.5 Distal Leaves with Curved Temple
4.6 Lion Brooch
4.7 Flat Disciplinettes
4.8 Brooches with wide feet
4.9 Double Button fibula with slew spring
4.10 Sleeved spring fibula with forked bow
4.11 Knee fibula with sleeved spring



Group 5. Sleeved Hinge Fibula...111
5.1 Hinged fibula with sheet-metal bracket
5.2 Aucissa fibula
5.3 Aucissa variant with ornamental buttons or globules
5.4 Aucissa variant with openwork
5.5 Aucissa replicas
5.6 Cross-profiled hinge pins
5.7 Hinged hinge pins
5.8 Cross-shaped hinge pins Hinge broaches with Niello inserts
5.9 Hinge broaches with undivided bow and fully plastic foot button
5.10 Hinge broaches with undivided bow and foot knob specimen
5.11 Hinge brooch with inscription
5.12 Hinge broaches with longitudinally profiled bow
5.13 Hinge broaches with roof-shaped bow
5.14 Hinge broaches with side bow-type buttons (and variants)
5.15 Niello-variegated hinge broaches with variants
5.16 Hinge broaches with small round inlays
5.17 Enamel bail brooches


Group 6. Tubular Hinge Fibula...162
6.1 Heavily profiled fibulae with hinge
6.2 Knee-joint with double brace and hinge
6.3 Brackets with short hinge arms and comb-shaped bracket
6.4 Crossbow Fibula
6.5 Onion Button Fibula


Group 7. Jaw Hinge Brooches...178
7.1 Temple (none listed)
7.2 Umbonate (raised center knob or ornament)
7.3 Complex round
7.4 Cruciform
7.5 Lunar (Crescent)
7.6 Spoke wheel with center ornament
7.7 Disc brooches with punched ornamentation
7.8 Disc brooches with glass cabochon boss
7.9 Brooch with openwork leg rest
7.10 Disc brooches with press plate supports
7.11 Tutulus-like fibulae
7.12 Ring-shaped enamel fibulae
7.13 Enamel fibulae with alternating swatches
7.14 Millefiori ornamented brooches
7.15 Brooch with movable animal sculpture
7.16 Equilateral disc brooches
7.17 Flat multicolored enamel fibulae
7.18 Disc brooches with one symmetry axis
7.19 Fibulas with moving beads
7.20 Complex enamel brooches
7.21 Brooches with medallions
7.22 Zoomorphic with punch decorations
7.23 Shoe sole plate
7.24 Zoomorphic
7.25 Zoomorphic with enamel decorations


Group 8. Penannular Fibula - Ring Broaches and Omega Brooches...205
8.1 Omega fibula
8.2 Ring fibula