Deriving their knowledge in from the Etruscans, Egyptians, Persians, and other conquered peoples, the Romans devised one of the best and most sophisticated medical systems of the ancient world. They were influenced predominantly, however, by the ancient Greeks: the first surgeons and doctors to come to Rome were Greek, and the practice of medicine advanced drastically when they did so in the third century BC. The Roman army had permanent doctors and military hospitals, with one usually placed in each fort. Civilian medicine did not enjoy such impressive progress, however, due to the enormous risks of infection, blood loss, and pain, which were associated with any surgery delving deeper than the surface. The most common ailments requiring medical intervention were those of the skin, digestion, fertility (and contraception), and fractures.
Roman Bronze Medical Tools
$109.71 – $122.61
Item A features a long, slender shaft with a thicker, rounded base and two pairs of horizontal bands incised for decoration near the top. The shaft broadens into a long and thin spatula with rounded edges. It is possible that the shaft’s bulbous base itself functioned as a tool, as many medical items were dual ended in antiquity. 17.1 cm.
Item B features a long, plain shaft leading to a fairly flat spoon-tip. It is likely that such a tool was used to apply ointments, or for accessing ointments from a storage pot. Alternatively, it could have been used for inspection and diagnosis. 15.8 cm.
Condition: Very fine condition. One tool is covered by a pale green patina; the other displays small patches of patination. Earthly encrustations on both. The spoon-tip of one tool shows a crack, but the bronze is stable.