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How Ancient Europeans Saw the WorldVision, Patterns, and the Shaping of the Mind in Prehistoric Times$
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Peter S. Wells

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691143385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691143385.001.0001

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Attraction and Enchantment

Attraction and Enchantment

Fibulae

Chapter:
(p.99) Chapter 6 Attraction and Enchantment
Source:
How Ancient Europeans Saw the World
Author(s):

Peter S. Wells

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691143385.003.0006

This chapter is devoted to fibulae, which are clothing pins that operated on the same principle as the modern safety pin. The style of fibulae changed relatively rapidly throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages, and they have long been used as the principal chronological indicator for a given grave or settlement. Of all of the common objects preserved from late prehistoric Europe, fibulae are the most attractive, in the sense that even today people are drawn to them, finding them intriguing to look at. The reason that they are so appealing is that they embody a number of the visually commanding features outlined in Chapter 2. In their shapes, they are unlike anything in nature and thus immediately seize our attention. In addition, fibulae had a unique property among material culture items of late prehistoric Europe. In order to operate a fibula—to attach it to a garment—the user had to apply considerable force with the thumb and forefinger to the pin in order to lift the end out of the catch. Then, after sliding the pin through a textile garment or removing it from one, he or she released the pin to sit in the catch again. No other objects required this kind of bodily manipulation in order to serve their intended purposes.

Keywords:   fibulae, artifacts, late prehistoric Europe, Bronze Age, Iron Age, safety pins, clothing pins

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