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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Instrument with Canine Head
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
1st-5th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
Roman period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
10.6 x 0.85 cm (4 3/16 x 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 89.13; Sn, 9.58; Pb, 0.13; Zn, 0.05; Fe, 0.45; Ni, 0.02; Ag, 0.28; Sb, 0.26; As, 0.11; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.01; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

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)

"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 widens into a decorative finial in the shape of a canine head. The animal’s snout points downward in the direction of the tapered end. Above the ears, an incised ornamental decorative pattern of ribs, incised loops, and circles appears on three sides of the object. The underside of the head is flattened.

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.


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.

David Smart

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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