- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Tools and Equipment
- Work Type
- medical instrument
- 1st-4th century CE
- Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
- Roman Imperial period
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Copper alloy
- 18 x 0.8 cm (7 1/16 x 5/16 in.)
- Technical Details
Technical Observations: The patina is grayish green. There are small surface losses, but the object is otherwise intact. The ligula was made by casting the rough shape and then working to further shape it and finish the surface.
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 ligula has a thick, diamond-shaped pan with a shallowly curved bottom set at a very slight angle. The circular-sectioned shaft tapers to a blunt tip (1).
Greek and Roman medical instruments, many of which were described by ancient authors, have been found, sometimes in sets, throughout the ancient world (2). The instruments could have been used for more than one function, making precise classification difficult in some instances. A ligula is a probe with a small scoop on one end, positioned at an angle to the shaft; the scoop was used to remove ointments and powdered medicines from containers and perhaps also apply them (3).
1. A similar instrument is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 17.230.110.
2. J. S. Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (Oxford, 1907) 1-9; and D. Michaelides, “A Roman Surgeon’s Tomb from Nea Paphos,” Report of the Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, 1984: 315-32, esp. 321-23.
3. Milne 1907 (supra 2) 77-78; Michaelides 1984 (supra 2) 325; R. Jackson and S. La Niece, “A Set of Roman Medical Instruments from Italy,” Britannia 17 (1986): 119-67, esp. 157; and L. J. Bliquez, Roman Surgical Instruments and Other Minor Objects in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Mainz, 1994) 48-49.
- Subjects and Contexts
- Related Works
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