Female Dress and "Slavic" Bow Fibulae in Greece

by Florin Curta

Hesperia, Volume 74, Issue 1
Page(s): 101-146
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25067949
Year: 2005


Long considered an “index fossil” for the migration of the Slavs to Greece, “Slavic” bow fibulae have never been understood in relation to female dress. The “exotic” character of their decoration has encouraged speculations concerning the ethnic attribution of these artifacts, but no serious attempt has been made to analyze the archaeological contexts in which they were found. It is argued here that bow fibulae were more than just dress accessories, and that they may have been used for negotiating social power. The political and military situation of the early seventh century A.D. in the Balkans, marked by the collapse of the early Byzantine power in the region, may explain the need for new emblemic styles to represent group identity.