Large Royal Roman Fibula with Cameo, Late 2nd-Early 3rd Century AD
Made of gold, agate, garnet and glass.
Such large fibulae are very rare, but nevertheless attested in iconography, for instance on Palmyrean steles, on which many women have their cloaks fastened and adorned with similar ornaments on the shoulder. The quality and importance of this work clearly suggest that it was not meant to be worn by a simple Roman citizen and that the figure represented on the cameo would have belonged to the high aristocracy, or even to the Imperial family.
For historical and stylistic reasons, among the young women belonging to the Imperial circle then, the only ones that can be taken into account in the identification of this particular cameo’s face are Plautilla (Caracalla’s wife), and Septimius Severus’ two daughters and first wife. The last three figures being quite secondary in Roman history (they are mentioned only in Historia Augusta, Life of Septimius Severus, VIII, 1; III, 2), the most serious candidate remains Plautilla.