Two Shield Bosses

Date: 7th century

Culture: Langobardic

Medium: Iron, copper alloy, gold

Dimensions: 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)

Classification: Shields

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and Bequest of Stephen V. Grancsay, by exchange, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.184.1, .2

Description

Shield bosses were designed to be attached to the center of a circular wooden shield. These two are thought to be 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.

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