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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
medical instrument
1st-4th century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Rome (Latium)
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Copper alloy
10.5 x 0.45 cm (4 1/8 x 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is a dull gray metallic surface. The object is intact, although the tip is missing.

The cyathiscomele was made by casting the general shape, with some possible working to further shape the flat ends and finish the surface. This instrument has a fragment of wire wrapped around the handle.

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
This cyathiscomele has a very shallow bowl on one end of the smooth shaft and a thin bud-shaped finial on the other. On the tip of the finial is a small sphere. A wire has been looped around the shaft near the finial.

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. 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 (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) 61-63; Michaelides 1984 (supra 1) 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

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