Ivory Belt Buckle

Ivory belt buckle from Castellammare di Stabia

Ivory belt buckle from Castellammare di Stabia, fifth century C.E., archaeological museum, near Naples, Italy.

This early-fifth-century ivory belt buckle was discovered beneath the cathedral of Castellammare di Stabia, a city near Pompeii, which was destroyed in 79 C.E. in the eruption of Vesuvius. This much later artifact depicts a motif called the concordia apostolorum. The apostles Peter and Paul are shown in an embrace, probably signifying the first time they were reunited in Rome. Peter and Paul’s arms intertwine and their cheeks touch, though they stand at some distance from one another. Parallels have been drawn between fourth- and fifth-century depictions of the concordia and the Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs, a porphyry sculpture of four embracing Roman emperors dating from around 300 C.E.