A rare Roman Silver Surgical Spathomele, Roman Imperial Period, ca. 1st - 2nd century CE
A beautifully preserved Roman spathomele, or spatula probe, with a wide flat tongue on one end, tapering into the decorated shaft, with an olivary point at the other end. The spatula not only provided a firmer grip and less danger of injury when making deep incisions but it was also used for dissecting tumors and abscesses, and for various practica! applications during surgical procedures.
Background: Early Roman medicine was heavily based on religious and holistic practices, including prayers, chants, herbs, and charms. It wasn't until the late third century BC that Greek surgical practices and Greek doctors were brought to Rome. The military saw the first changes in medical practice, with the addition of permanent doctors, the establishment of military hospitals, and the widespread adoption of surgery. For the general public, there was more of a merge between the old Roman beliefs and the new Greek practices. Herbal and plant remedies were widely accepted by physicians, although opinions differed on the specific uses of plants. Surgery was used as a last resort due to the risks involved, and was usually limited to the surface of the body. Doctors avoided organs and other internal issues because there was not much they could do that wouldn't cause more harm. For related examples cf: Mills, Roman Artifacts, pg. 60
Dimensions: Length: 5 1/2 inches (14 cm)
Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall.
Provenance: Private NYC collection, acquired from the NYC trade.
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