Bow Brooch

Date: 400–450

Culture: East Germanic

Medium: Silver with gold-sheet overlay and garnets

Dimensions: Overall: 6 9/16 x 2 7/16 x 1 3/8 in. (16.7 x 6.2 x 3.5 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.100.19


This brooch is a luxury version of the kind worn by eastern Germanic women living along the lower and middle Danube River in the fourth and fifth centuries. Usually worn in pairs, brooches were used to pin together the shoulders of a woman's garment. While the most common brooches were made from unadorned silver sheet, this resplendent and exceptionally large brooch is covered in gold sheet decorated with beaded and twisted gold wire, gold granulation, and an array of multishaped garnets. It was undoubtedly worn by an aristocratic woman and would have been part of a rich ensemble of gold jewelry—consisting of collars with pendants, armlets, and rings—included in her burial.