Copper-alloy disc brooch

Merovingian, second half of the 7th century AD
Found in a stone coffin near Dotzheim (Wiesbaden), Hesse, Germany (1828)

Based on a late classical medallion

The brooch is decorated in repoussé with a low-relief figure personifying Rome enthroned, holding a long sceptre in her left hand and a figure of Victory in her right.

The brooch imitates a late Roman medallion, possibly one of the usurping Roman emperor Attalus (AD 409–416), the first to be raised to that office by barbarians. The damaged inscription can be read as: INVICTA ROMA UTERE FELIX (‘Rome is invincible, use in good fortune’). The words utere felix indicate that it was a gift. The Franks produced a series of such brooches, with similar or different designs, and the choice of subject possibly reflects a desire to promote themselves as successors to Rome in the West.

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H. Roth and E. Wamers, Hessen im Frühmittelalter, Arc (Sigmaringen, Thorbecke, 1984)


Diameter: 5.750 cm

Museum number

Britain, Europe and Prehistory


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