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The Domagnano treasure

  • Drawing showing how jewellery would have been worn

    Drawing showing how jewellery would have been worn

 

Length: 5.300 cm (mount)
Length: 5.300 cm (mount)
Height: 4.500 cm (pendant)
Height: 4.500 cm (pendant)
Height: 4.500 cm (pendant)
Height: 4.500 cm (pendant)
Height: 4.500 cm (pendant)
Length: 5.300 cm (mount)
Length: 5.300 cm (mount)
Length: 5.300 cm (mount)
Length: 5.300 cm (mount)

Britain, Europe and Prehistory
1933,0405.1–11

Room 41: Europe AD 300-1100

    The Domagnano treasure

    Ostrogothic, late 5th-early 6th century AD
    Part of a grave group (or groups), or hoard found at Domagnano, Republic of San Marino

    A spectacular find from Ostrogothic Italy

    The Domagnano treasure, of which this assemblage forms an important part, consists of costume jewellery and accessories that could have been worn by a noble lady or princess. The gold is very pure and is decorated with garnets, green glass, shell and pearls in the cloisonné technique. The contrasting colours suggest oriental influence. Shown here are two mounts (probably from a purse or casket), part of a collar of pendants, a gold pin with a length of chain from a headdress, an earring, a finger-ring and the chapes from two knife-sheaths. A second, double chain may have been used to hang the knives from a belt.

    Although damaged when found, the mounts show an exceptionally high level of technique. The complex designs incorporate Christian motifs, such as a cross, fish and birds' heads; the larger mount is in the shape of a helmet. The Ostrogoths had been converted to Arianism, a heretical Christian creed, before their migration westwards. Flying insects appear in stylized form on the earring and pendants, and may represent bees, an ancient symbol of immortality that could also be given a Christian interpretation.

    The headdress, earrings and collar reflect the strength of Byzantine influence on court ceremonial and fashions around the time of Theodoric, king of Italy from AD 493 to 526. Theodoric ruled in the name of the Empire and was an admirer of Roman civilization. However, other jewellery from the Domagnano treasure, in European and American museums, includes a pair of large eagle brooches. These would have fastened a mantle at the shoulders. The brooches belonged to Gothic fashion and would have distinguished the wearer from the native Italian population and from other Germanic peoples, too.

    M. Nawroth, 'Der Fund von Domagnano, Republik San Marino' in Anzeiger des Germanischen Nati (, 2000), pp. 89-101

    S. Marzinzik, Masterpieces: Early medieval a (London, British Museum Press, 2013)

    D. Kidd, 'Il tesoro di Domagnano' in I Goti a San Marino. Il Tesoro (Milan, 1995)

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