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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
1st-5th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
Roman period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Copper alloy
9.6 x 0.5 x 1.4 cm (3 3/4 x 3/16 x 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is green and black with some thick encrustations. The object is basically intact, but the surface detail is poorly preserved. The tweezers were fabricated by casting and hot working to shape them, followed by finishing techniques. The corroded and encrusted surface does not show any tool marks.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)

Harold Wilmerding Bell, Cambridge, MA (by 1911), gift; to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1911-1977), transfer; to the Fogg Museum.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Gift of H. W. Bell
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This set of tweezers is made of a single piece of metal. Its arms taper near the curved apex. The flat jaws are bent at an angle (1).

In the ancient world, tweezers were used both as part of a surgeon’s kit and also as a standard cosmetic item for depilation (2).


1. Very similar examples are known from Augst, Switzerland, dated tot the first half of the first century CE; see E. Riha, Römisches Toilettgerät und medizinische Instrumente aus Augst und Kaiseraugst (Augst, 1986) 37, nos. 101-102, pl. 13. See also M. Garsson, ed., Une histoire d’alliage: Les bronzes antiques des réserves du Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne, exh. cat. (Marseille, 2004) 53, nos. 118-19; and P. M. Allison, The Insula of the Menander at Pompeii 3: The Finds (Oxford, 2006) 29 and 46, no. 41, pl. 3.3.

2. J. S. Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (Oxford, 1907) 90-93; L. J. Bliquez, Roman Surgical Instruments and Other Minor Objects in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Mainz, 1994) 60; and Allison 2006 (supra 1) 29.

David Smart

Exhibition History

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/2021 - 01/02/2022

Subjects and Contexts

Roman Domestic Art

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at