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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
26.6 x 4.9 cm (10 1/2 x 1 15/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 88.29; Sn, 11.18; Pb, 0.11; Zn, 0.004; Fe, 0.1; Ni, less than 0.01; Ag, 0.04; Sb, 0.14; As, 0.14; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

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 of a handle were made by punching and turning in order to form beveled, or countersunk, edges 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 slightly curved and thickened (3 mm thick compared to 0.5 mm thick at the cutting edge). An old sticker is preserved on one side of the blade, but it is no longer legible.


1. Compare a bronze knife from Pompeii of a slightly different shape, but also one edged: 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

Verification Level

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