Carved amber bow of a fibula (safety pin)

Period: Archaic or Classical

Date: ca. 500 B.C.

Culture: Etruscan

Medium: Amber

Dimensions: 3 5/16in. (8.4cm)
Other: 5 1/2 x 1 1/4in. (14 x 3.1cm)

Classification: Miscellaneous-Amber

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.2067


This sculpture is one of the most important amber objects of pre-Roman Italy. It is distinguished for the fine quality of its carving, considerable size, and complex subject. There is disagreement among scholars as to the subject portrayed and whether the work was created by an Etruscan artist or by a Greek artist for an Etruscan patron. The scene may be mythological, representing the goddess Aphrodite (known to the Etruscans as Turin) making love with the young Adonis; or, alternatively, it could represent a reclining Etruscan couple with attendants at a funerary banquet.