8th Century BC


Greek, Boeotian


4 5/16 x 7 1/2 in. (11 x 19 cm)

Object Number



The exquisitely engraved decoration on this massive fibula (safety-pin) depicts a horse grazing in a meadow surrounded by four water-birds, and, on the other side, five fishes. The pin would have fastened a mantle of loosely woven fabric by the shoulder, and the principal side with the horse would have faced outwards. When desirable to display the reverse, the arch would be turned upside down, to reveal the fishes now swimming the right way up.

It has been suggested that the subject matter reflects the belief at that time that the universe was divided into three parts: water (fish), earth (horse) and air (birds). The horse implies aristocratic power: only the elite could afford to keep them in Greece. Three votive bronze horses in the Michael C. Carlos Museum are contemporary (1984.5, 1999.11.9, and 1990.4).

Credit Line

Carlos Collection of Ancient Art


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2004 - June 2008
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2013 - June 19, 2014
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, July 2014 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2002.
Jasper Gaunt, "New Galleries of Greek & Roman Art at Emory University: The Michael C. Carlos Museum," Minerva 16 (2005): 13-17.
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 44.


This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View



“Fibula,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed December 13, 2018,

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