Migration Period influences

Merovingian jewelry from Rhenen. Photograph National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden

With the arrival of the Huns, jewellery styles and symbols of the Scythes reached the Pontic steppes and after that continental Europe. There they mixed with Byzantine techniques such as nielloing, enameling and cloisonné-work. This conglomerate of symbols and techniques then spread further into Europe, reaching the Atlantic and North Sea shores and the British islands, steadily developing into related but distinctive regional styles.

The most well-known examples of decorative pieces that illustrate the passing of time are the fibulae or fastening pins used by the Berber. Such pins were found throughout the Roman empire, from England and the Netherlands in the north to Nubia in the south. At the end of the Roman Empire, round, disc-shaped fibulas were popular and these remained in use during the Early Middle Ages, the period of the great migrations throughout Europe. The use of these fibulas was subsequently transferred from the Iberian peninsula to the Maghreb in the time of the Arab conquests. Where the fibula was abandoned during the Middle Ages in Europe, it continued to be used in the Maghreb, where it developed stylistically to new and distinct typlogies. Traces of the Middle Ages however can still be seen in the round fibula or tabzimt of Great Kabylia, Algeria. In their decoration schemes, they show the same patterns as their early medieval ancestors.


The picture in the background was taken by the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden