An Exceptional Late Antique Belt Buckle Plate from Jaffa: From Metalworking Technology to Cultural Biography

Matasha Mazis, Dana Ashkenazi, Alexander Fantalkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper introduces a technological and cultural biography of an exceptional copper-based belt buckle plate from ancient Jaffa. The exploration of intricate metalworking techniques and the cultural significance of this find provide new insights into late antique material culture in the Levant. Although similar buckles appear in museum collections around the world, few have archaeological provenience and, to date, none have been analyzed and published in terms of their material characteristics. This study establishes a metallurgical database for future comparative analyses, employing X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy to characterize the buckle’s composition and manufacture. The results reveal the use of recycled metals, casting, cold fastening, and decorative finishing techniques, including contouring of the openwork shapes. The analysis finds no evidence of enameling, challenging existing theories about these buckles. A comparison of the crafting techniques and design elements of this belt buckle plate with those of similar buckles shows evidence of distinctive artisanal traditions. The socio-cultural inferences of its art and iconography are also explored in light of the geopolitical landscape after the Arab conquests. This study sheds light on the production and distribution of Levantine buckles and enriches under-standing of their use in late antique culture and society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-269
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Late Antiquity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics
  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'An Exceptional Late Antique Belt Buckle Plate from Jaffa: From Metalworking Technology to Cultural Biography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this