Disk Brooch with Cameo

Date: ca. 600 (mount); 100–300 (cameo)

Culture: Langobardic (mount); Roman (cameo)

Medium: Sheet gold, onyx, glass, and wire

Dimensions: Overall: 2 7/16 x 1/4 in. (6.2 x 0.7 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Purchase, 1895

Accession Number: 95.15.101


This cameo repeats a familiar classical type, but its energetic angular forms are a shorthand approximation of the earlier conception. Like some other nomadic tribes, the Lombards, or Langobards, the Germanic people who invaded northern Italy in the sixth century, prized Greco-Roman gems of earlier times, both preserving stones and displaying them by having them mounted in jewelry. These gems were no doubt valued for their antiquity as well as their local character, as they linked their Langobardic wearers to the illustrious peoples who preceded them on the Italian peninsula.