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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Knife Blade
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Unidentified culture
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Cast and hammered
4.4 x 0.4 x 23.5 cm (1 3/4 x 3/16 x 9 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, arsenic
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The patina has been stripped down to a brown and black metallic surface with some pale green corrosion. The surface is etched and pitted. The blade has suffered some loss to the cutting edge, where there are several stress cracks.

The knife blade was made by casting and hot working. Under the microscope, dendrites from casting show deformation from hammering. The three holes for attachment to a handle were made by punching and turning in order to receive a rivet-type mechanical attachment that is no longer present.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University
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 thin, single-edged knife has a tang with three circular holes for attachment to a handle (1). The tang is aligned with the non-cutting edge and indented sharply from the edge; the blade tapers to a point at the tip. The non-cutting edge is thickened (3.5 mm thick compared to 0.5 mm thick at the cutting edge). An old sticker is preserved on one side of the blade and reads “1998.” A second, paper label reading “67” is attached to the end of the tang.


1. Compare a copper alloy knife with one edge from Pompeii of a slightly different shape in Piccoli bronzi del Real museo borbonico (Naples, 1858) pl. 4.34; and an iron knife in R. Steiger et al., Forschungen in Augst 1: Insula 31, Ausgrabungen und Funde 1960/61 (Augst, 1977) 223, fig. 96.4.

Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

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