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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Scoop Probe
Other Titles
Former Title: Cosmetic Spoon
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
1st century BCE-4th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Sardis (Lydia)
Find Spot: Middle East, Türkiye (Turkey), Western Türkiye (Turkey)
Roman period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
15.5 x 0.6 cm (6 1/8 x 1/4 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is dull black with some encrustations present. Small surface losses are present, but otherwise the object is intact. The scoop probe was made by casting the rough shape and then working to further shape it and finish the surface.

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 bending of this instrument may be intentional, as the bend in the center, at least, creates a finger grip. The small bowl of the scoop at one end is regularly shaped. The opposite end is blunt; from there the shaft tapers slightly toward the bowl. A probe in Paris has a similarly bent shaft (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. Scoop probes could be used for stirring and applying medicines, cleaning ears or other, including cosmetic, uses (3).


1. See J. Bonnet et al., eds., Le Bronzes Antiques de Paris (Paris, 1989) 290, no. 270.

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) 61-68; Michaelides 1984 (supra 2) 325-36; R. Jackson and S. La Niece, “A Set of Roman Medical Instruments from Italy,” Britannia 17 (1986): 119-67, esp. 157-58.

David Smart

Publication History

  • Jane Waldbaum, Metalwork from Sardis: The Finds through 1974, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1983), p. 152, no. 1005, pl. 58.

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes
  • Roman Domestic Art

Related Works

Verification Level

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