Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Two Shield Bosses

7th century
Iron, copper alloy, gold
1984.184.1: Diam. 7 1/2 in. (19.05 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.89 cm); 1984.184.2: Diam. 7 in. (17.78 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.89 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and Bequest of Stephen V. Grancsay, by exchange, 1984
Accession Number:
1984.184.1, .2
Not on view
Shield bosses were attached to the center of a circular wooden shield. These two are thought to have been made in northern Italy, the heart of the Langobardic Kingdom from the late sixth to the mid-eighth century. The majority of surviving Langobardic shield bosses are made of plain iron. Some, like these examples, are more richly decorated with engraved appliqués of gilt bronze.

The crosses and fish that decorate one of the bosses suggest that its owner was a Christian. The bird-headed spiral on the other boss is an older symbol derived from the Langobards' pre-Christian past.
Ex. coll.: Count Wilczek (Castle Kreuzenstein, Austria); Ruth and Leopold Blumka; Eric Vaule.
Werner, J. "Ein Langobardischen Schild von Ischl a d'Alz." Bayerische Vorgeschichtsblätter 18/19 (1951–52). p. 45.

Hessen, Otto von. "Ricerche di Archeologia Altomedievale e Medievale No. 7.." In Il Materiale Altomedievale nelle Collezioni Stibbert di Firenze. Ricerche di Archeologia Altomedievale e Medievale. Florence, 1983. pp. 34-35, cat. nos. 155, 156.

Arslan, Ermanno, and Gian Carlo Menis. "A Cura di Gian Carlo Menis." In I Longobardi. Milan, 1990. cat. nos. IV.62, IV.63, II.206.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 10–11, 64, ill.

Brown, Katharine R., Dafydd Kidd, and Charles T. Little, ed. From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000.

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