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Scientific Area » Longobard Culture » Material Culture

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During their migrations, the diverse barbarian gentes, war-prone and clever at metalwork and ceramics production, developed new forms particularly in female clothing (fibulas and other decoration accessories), partly borrowed from the Roman Byzantine customs, which were formal and fashionable in local, regional and wider geographic areas (e.g. S-shaped zoomorphic fibulas) becoming sometimes the distinguishing symbol of different peoples (e.g. rectangular plate buckles topped with eagle head peculiar to Visigoths and Ostrogoths, Thuringian bow fibulas with rectangular head and Longobard bow fibulas with semicircular head).

Such variety of cultural and productive characters of former province lands of the Western Roman Empire stressed the differences arisen between 6th and 7th century.

Peculiar to the Italian Longobard tradition were metal handicrafts produced in the evolved late ancient shops. The most significant technological and iconographic examples included parade shields decorated with bronze plates depicting zoomorphic shapes of Germanic tradition, flanked by a rich production of classical compositions with leafage and vegetable interlace, or, more clearly, with peafowl next to trees of life and cantharos, themes widespread in the Byzantine, Mediterranean and Middleeastern artistic culture; funeral gold plated crosses, borrowed from the Mediterranean culture, decorated with Germanic, classical and Christian themes. Such syncretism distinguished Longobard metal manufacturing tradition from the Visigoth and Frankish ones.

Jewels of all kinds left in Longobard sepulchres bear witness to the significance of the atelier of the Cripta Balbi in Rome in the relations between local handicrafts and Longobard purchasers.
The assimilation process, started in the middle of 7th century, fully developed only in 8th century with the foundations of monasteries, San Salvatore in Brescia (753) being, in Italy, the most significant example in an extremely diverse context which included the monastery of S. Silvestro in Nonantola (752), that of S.Maria d’Aurona (740) in Milan, the monasteries of S.Zeno and S.Maria in Organo (743,745) in Verona and others located throughout Italy such as the monastery of Santa Sofia in Benevento.

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