Station: [23] Jewellery

As in most cultures, jewellery played an important role in the Roman World. Both men and women wore rings on their fingers. Women also wore necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Jewellery was made from valuable materials and, even then, was subject to the whims of fashion. The most common find in the city of Passau were clothes pins or brooches, also known as fibulae. The Romans used these – much like a modern safety pin – to hold together their clothes and cloaks, as you can see on the Flora figurine. But fibulae also served as status symbols. In the military, they were worn as insignia of rank. Designs of fibulae changed over time, and there were many regional variations. At the centre of the second row of brooches you can see one that stands out from all the others found at Passau: a Germanic goldfoil fibula inlaid with blue glass. A similar piece from the Bavarian Danube-Ries district has been dated to AD 300. The example in goldfoil you see is likely to be of a similar date. The Germanic origin of the piece indicates some contact between the Romans and Germanic tribes, whether through marriage, trade or as loot after a raid. It is also possible that a Germanic woman lost the brooch in the fort baths. Hairpins made of bone are common archaeological finds. Women used them to pin up their hair or to hold a hairnet in place. Just like brooches, they served both a practical and a decorative function. Cameos cut from semi-precious stones were commonly used as inlays for finger rings. Such gemstones could also be pressed into sealing wax in order to seal documents. Three engraved gems were found in Passau: the first is from near the Ortsspitze fort and shows a goatherd. The second, from the Raetian part of the city, is cut in the shape of three different masks – a satyr, an eagle and a young god, perhaps Dionysus. The third, a fragment of a ring that was found in the settlement area of Boiodurum, has images of Jupiter and Victoria. This may indicate that the owner had a military connection.