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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Scoop Probe
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Instrument
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
1st-5th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
Cast, lost-wax process
11.4 cm (4 1/2 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is black and green. The scoop end is broken off, while the rounded end is preserved. The handle was made by casting with some finishing after casting.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Louise M. and George E. Bates, Camden, ME (by 1971-1992), gift; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1992.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Louise M. and George E. Bates
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 straight, smooth shaft has an ovoid-shaped probe on one end and is broken off at the other. Ring collars surround a decorative bead just before the break. Covered with a smooth, deep-brown colored patina, it is in good and stable condition.

Greek and Roman medical instruments, many of which were described by ancient authors, have been found, sometimes in sets, throughout the ancient world (1). 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 (2).


1. 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.

2. Milne 1907 (supra 1) 61-68; Michaelides 1984 (supra 1) 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

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes
  • Roman Domestic Art

Related Works

Verification Level

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