Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
medical instrument
1st-4th century CE
Find Spot: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Copper alloy
15.8 x 0.8 cm (6 1/4 x 5/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: A pale green corrosion with red cuprite and thick grayish encrustations is present. The object appears to be intact.

The cyathiscomele was made by casting the general shape with some possible working to further shape the spoon end and finish the surface.

Carol Snow (submitted 2002)


Recorded Ownership History
Harold Wilmerding Bell, Cambridge, MA (by 1911), gift; to the Department of the Classics, Harvard University (1911-1977), transfer; to the Fogg Museum.

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

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.


Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
One end of this cyathiscomele terminates in an olivary probe, while the other is an oval bowl. The distinct shape of the probe may indicate that the object could have been used for mixing and applying various materials. Decorative molding is visible at the transition between the circular-sectioned shaft and the long, narrow bowl. The molding consists of a bead with one thin raised rib on one side and two on the other. A similar instrument was found in a grave at Pompeii (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. 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).


1. A. Mairui, “Pompei: Scavo della ‘Grande Palestra’ nel quartiere dell’Anfiteatro (a. 1935-1939),” Notizie degli Scavi 1939: 165-283, esp. 216-21, figs. 30-32. See also E. Künzl, Medizinische Instrumente aus Sepulkralfunden der römischen Kaiserzeit (Cologne, 1983) 12, fig. 3.

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) 61-63; 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

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