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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1939.131
Title
Cyathiscomele
Other Titles
Former Title: Spoon
Classification
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
medical instrument
Date
1st-4th century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Asia, Antioch (Syria)
Find Spot: Middle East, Turkey
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/310781
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Copper alloy
Technique
Cast and hammered
Dimensions
16.9 x 1.4 cm (6 5/8 x 9/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is dark brown with raised spots of green and metal showing through in some areas. Small corrosion losses are present at the scoop’s edge. The scoop section appears to have been hammered from the same section of rod stock as the shaft. Decorative indentations could be the result of either hammering or filing.


Henry Lie (submitted 2010)

Provenance
Excavated from Seleucia, sector 18-F (no. a-1344-U614) (Turkey, Hatay) by the Syrian Department of Antiquities (later the Hatay government) and the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, (1935-1939), dispersed; to Fogg Art Museum, 1939.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and its Vicinity
Accession Year
1939
Object Number
1939.131
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The shaft of this cyathiscomele is set at an angle to the bowl, perhaps making it easier to hold levelly (1). Three incisions ring the shaft above the spoon, and the tip ends in a distinct oblong olivary probe. The bowl is long with a chip missing from one edge.

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. A cyathiscomele is a type of scoop probe, with a spoon terminal at one end and a probe at the other, used for stirring and applying medicines, among other uses, including cosmetic (3).

NOTES:

1. Compare J. S. Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (Oxford, 1907) 61, pl. 14.3.

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.

3. Milne 1907 (supra 1) 61-63; Michaelides 1984 (supra 2) 326; and R. Jackson and S. La Niece, “A Set of Roman Medical Instruments from Italy,” Britannia 17 (1986): 119-67, esp. 158.


David Smart

Exhibition History

Antioch-on-the-Orontes: Excavating an Early Byzantine City, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Collection, Washington, 04/07/2010 - 10/10/2010

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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu