Fibula (from Lat. figere, to fasten) is a special kind of pin used to join or fasten two pieces of clothing, usually on the shoulder or on the chest. In time fibulae became also objects of adornment. They are very common since they were an obligatory part of the costume of the Roman citizens and of other members of the population. Each fibula consists of the pin and the body, which is made up of the catchplate, the bow and the foot.
They may be made in one or two pieces. They have a long history: the earliest known examples date from the Bronze Age and are simple in form. During the Hallstatt period they evolved into a multitude of forms decorated in various techniques. The late La Tène fibulae provided the basis for the Roman ones.
More than forty kinds of fibulae used by the inhabitants of Singidunum are known: arched, moulded, elbowed, anchor-like, ring-like, flat (glazed and non-glazed), omega-shaped, with the reversed foot,. zoomorphic, T-fibulae, Pannonian, cross-shaped, and others. Their forms depended on the current fashions emanating from various centres or on local influences.
They were decorated in various techniques: incision, openwork, engraving, incrustation, granulation, punctuation, etc. Fibulae were often marks of social and economic status. Those worn by women were smaller, of finer workmanship, and sometimes used in pairs. Fibulae for men were bigger, particularly those used by soldiers and state officials. From the 3rd century on fibulae were presented as official gifts to military tribunes in recognition of particular merits.