Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Title: Disc Brooch with Bust of a Helmeted Woman, probably Athena
  • Creator:
  • Description:

    The central cameo of this brooch likely depicts the goddess Athena in profile. She wears a lion skin around her shoulders and a helmet with a crest. Three amethysts hang from the bottom of the brooch. This Italo-Byzantine item closely resembles imperial Byzantine fibulae as described by the sixth-century historian Procopius. Furthermore, imperial imagery such as the mosaics of the emperor Justinian at the church of St. Vitale in Ravenna shows Justinian wearing such a brooch.

    Sir Arthur Evans,famed archaeologist of Minoan Crete, bought the brooch in Naples in 1889 for 12 pounds. He presented it to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in 1909.

  • Source: WorldImages (California State University)
  • Rights: ┬ęKathleen Cohen; Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License
  • Subject (See Also): Brooches Classical Influences Goddesses Jewelry Mythology- Classical
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 6
  • Date:
  • Related Work: Compare another piece of early medieval jewelry with Classical influences, a disc brooch with a cameo and cabochons, ca. 600: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/95.15.101.
  • Current Location: Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, AN1909.816
  • Original Location: Benevento, Italy
  • Artistic Type (Category): Digital Images; Jewelry;
  • Artistic Type (Material/Technique): Gold; Sardonyx; Cameo;
  • Donor:
  • Height/Width/Length(cm): //
  • Inscription:
  • Related Resources: MacGregor, Arthur. A Summary Catalogue of the Continental Archaeological Collections (Roman Iron Age, Migration Period, Early Medieval) in the Ashmolean Museum. British Archaeological Reports, 2000. Page 211;
    Survival of the Gods: Classical Mythology in Medieval Art. Exhibition catalogue. Brown University Bell Gallery, 1987.