Roman Medicine and Medical Tools

During the Roman Empire, bronze was the most used material for daily life objects: Romans poured melted bronze in clay moulds in order to create little artefacts. A lot of items that we use nowadays were already used in Ancient Rome. This is the case for tweezers, which were mainly used, as today, to remove unwanted hair, but could have also served as surgical instrument.

Deriving knowledge from Greeks, Etruscans, Egyptians, Persians and other conquered peoples, the Romans came up with one of the best and most sophisticated medical systems of the ancient world. The Romans adopted many Greek medical ideas and Greek medicine had a huge influence on Roman medicine. The first doctors to appear in Rome were also from Ancient Greece. The Romans used very sophisticated medical tools. Thanks to archaeological finds, such as those at Pompeii, we have a very deep understanding of their use in the ancient world, and the advancement of Roman medicine. Excavations have produced tools dating as far back as 500 BC.

Roman bronze scalpels


Scalpels were made of steel, bronze and iron, or a combination of either material, and were used to make incisions. Ancient scalpels had almost the same form and function as their modern counterparts


These were long thin, metal instruments which were used as probes for manoeuvring small pieces of tissue more easily. Hooks were another common instrument used regularly by Greek and Roman doctors. The hooks the ancient doctors used came in two basic varieties: sharp and blunt.

Bone drills

Bone drills were used to remove diseased bone tissue from various bones, or to drill holes to allow access to blocked parts of the body.

Metal forceps

These were used to extract small pieces of bone or other objects that would be otherwise difficult to remove with fingers.

Probes or Curettes

A popular medical tool, used to mix, measure and apply medicaments. Large numbers of cyathiscomeles survive, suggesting the tool was not only used for medical purposes but also by the general public.

roman bronze medical tool
By Francesca,

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