Gold brooch with a bow in the form of a winged chimaera

Etruscan, 525-500 BC
Found in Italy

A popular beast in Etruscan mythology

There are a number of surviving examples of this type of gold brooch, popular in Etruria towards the end of the sixth century BC. The type developed from the basic bow fibula, which had already been popular in Italy for several hundred years. Over time the bow gradually swelled and varied in shape and, in the seventh century BC, the long pin and its accompanying catch-plate evolved. Some examples are decorated with granulation and also occasionally small gold rosettes. Here the once simple bow-shape has been replaced by the body of an animal, either real or mythical.

This brooch is decorated with a chimaera (a beast composed of parts of various animals), with the head of a lion and another of a goat behind it, mounted on wings stemming from the lion's chest and linked at the top to form its neck. The chimaera was a popular beast in Etruscan mythology, its best-known representation being the large-scale bronze from Arezzo (now in Arezzo Museum). On brooches of this type the form of the chimaera varies, sometimes it includes a serpent-head tail and also a griffin-head. The beast on this brooch opens its jaws as if to attack the foal reclining with its front legs curled up, seemingly unawares, at the far end of the catch-plate.

The brooch is made from gold sheet with the lion made in two halves which have been pressed into a mould and soldered together lengthwise down its body.

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More information


M. Cristofani and M. Martelli, LOro degli Etruschi (Novara, Istituto geografico De Agostini, 1983)

E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Length: 6.800 cm
Weight: 117.000 g

Museum number

GR 1867.5-8.527 (Jewellery 1390)



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