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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Instrument Handle
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Part of Needle or Probe
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
medical instrument
1st-5th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
Roman period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
6.75 x 0.3 cm (2 11/16 x 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is dull brown, and some loss of surface has occurred. It is not clear whether the object is intact or broken at the ends. The implement was made by casting with some further working.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
"From Rome" according to Classical Collection index card; received as a gift of H.W. Bell on Feb. 2, 1911.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University, Gift of H. W. Bell
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
One end of this instrument tapers to a point, while the other end is a blunt tip. The shaft of the instrument is covered in decorative bead and reel molding, with ten ribs of similar size but various widths (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. Roman instruments of many types are decorated with raised molding; see, for example, L. J. Bliquez, Roman Surgical Instruments and Other Minor Objects in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (Mainz, 1994) nos. 60-67, 177-82, and 221-30.

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.

David Smart

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes

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