Visigothic eagle fibulae

Type: Fibulae
Date: Late fifth and early sixth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Spain
Dimensions: Ranging from 11.5 to 14.2 cm in height
Description: These eagle-shaped Visigothic fibulae (brooches for fasting garments) are associated with the Visigoths, a Germanic tribe that settled in the Iberian Peninsula beginning in the sixth century. The Visigoths had their capital at Toledo and were the dominant kingdom until 711, when they were defeated by an invading force of Arabs and Berbers. Eagle fibulae have often been discovered in pairs in women's graves and were most likely used to fasten the tops of their mantles to the fronts of their shoulders.

The examples shown here range from 11.5 to 14.2 cm in height. They were made using the cloisonné technique, named after the cells or compartments (cloisons in French) into which glass and stones of different colors were inlaid (e.g., amethyst, garnet). Similar techniques were used for contemporary belt buckles. The fibulae would originally have had pendants attached to the loops on the eagles' tails. As luxurious personal adornments in the shape of predatory birds, they likely symbolized power.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 3
Image Credits: Ángel M. Felicísimo, Walters Art Museum

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Walters Art Museum, fibulae Tierra de Barros (Badajoz) Madrid, Museo Arqueológico Nacional, fibulae from the Visigothic necropolis of Alovera