A large museum quality heavy silver Ostrogothic belt buckle. This elaborate artifact must have been the possession of a significant Gothic warrior.
Circa 5th - 6th century AD
It is beautifully and elaborately crafted with an eagle head (symbol of the Goths) at the terminus of an ornamental rectangular plate. The buckle and hook exhibit fantastic zoomorphic forms and the plate and buckle are decorated with incised designs. The rectangular front plate is embellished with five large red cabochon gems (carnelian?). The buckle retains the riveted back mounting plate and is in excellent condition. (108 x 46 mm – 4 5/16 x 1 7/8”)
For closely related examples see Sotheby’s (NY June 14, 2000), lot 148 and 149.
The Ostrogoths were part of an ancient Teutonic race who dwelt between the Elbe and the Vistula in the early part of the Christian era, and who overran and took an important part in subverting the Roman Empire. The Ostrogoths, who had long elected their rulers, chose Theodoric the Great as king in 471 AD.
A turbulent ally, the Byzantine emperor, Zeno, commissioned Theodoric to reconquer Italy from Odoacer. The Ostrogoths entered Italy in 488, defeated and slew Odoacer (493 AD), and set up the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy, with Ravenna as their capital.