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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Hollow Tool with Spatula
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Sardis (Lydia)
Find Spot: Middle East, Türkiye (Turkey), Western Türkiye (Turkey)
Unidentified culture
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
7.6 x 0.8 cm (3 x 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina of 1940.138 has been stripped to a pitted brown-black surface, while the patina of 1964.12.38 is green with thick burial encrustations. The patina of 1978.495.58 is green, red, and black corrosion. One end of 1978.495.58 is broken off.

The instruments were made by casting the general shape, and there may have been some working to further shape the square or rectangular ends and finish the surface. 1964.12.38 has iron corrosion preserved inside its hollow end. The other two instruments are solid metal.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Brought from Sardis; by Frederick Marquand Godwin, New York, (by 1914), by descent; to his wife Dorothy W. Godwin, New York (1914-1964), gift; to the Fogg Museum of Art, 1964.

Note: Frederick M. Godwin was the photographer for the excavations at Sardis with Howard Crosby Butler in 1913 and 1914.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mrs. Frederick M. Godwin
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
The hollow, tapering, circular-sectioned shaft is now filled with material, obscuring the interior. The wedge-shaped blade is broken or cut at an angle. A handle of a separate material may have been inserted into the hollow end (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.


1. Compare a chisel from Cologne with a similar hollow shaft but a much longer blade in J. S. Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (New York, 1907) 122, pl. 41.2. For instruments with similar wedge-shaped tongues, see 1940.138 and L. J. Bliquez, Roman Surgical Instruments and Other Minor Objects in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Mainz, 1994) pls. 2.3 and 3.12.

2. Milne 1907 (supra 1) 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.

David Smart

Publication History

  • Jane Waldbaum, Metalwork from Sardis: The Finds through 1974, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1983), p. 152, no. 1007, pl. 58.

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

Verification Level

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