Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

‚Lombards' on the move? A new interpretation of the so-called Langobardic bow-brooches

The Langobardic migration from Pannonia to Italy is generally seen as a paradigmatic model how migration took place. The archaeological argument to support this view based on written evidence is bow brooches. Specific types of them has been defined and used as material evidence of migrating Langobardic women. But there are some weak aspects, e. g. the appearance of several similar fibulae in Southern Germany far away from the suggested migration route.

Therefore my study focuses more closely on the bow brooch types and raises some central questions: What are the characteristics of the ‘Langobardic’ brooches, and how they have been defined? Which types of fibulae have been classified as Langobardic so far – and is there more than just a geographical and chronological argument? How can they be separated from the very large number of other bow brooches, and what characteristics all of them share? How form, size and ornamentation are linked together beyond all regional clusters?

A careful analysis shows that the definition of types overestimates the differences and marginalizes similarities between them. Looking at the many attributes of brooches and their distribution, we see relations and mobility in all directions – instead of migratory movements along just one route. Instead of indicating a one-dimensional traffic from Pannonia to Italy, more complex networks can be identified. Additionally, beyond ornamentation technical aspects will be included. This holistic perspective offers new insights into production, distribution and interaction across wider areas of Europe – and it sets an archaeological agenda beyond the written narrative.

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