Antique Medicine

Scalpel (1) 














This scalpel found on the southern coast of England, has its edge preserved - whitch is rather rare: the iron is mostly gone with rust ...l  


Antique medicine

Sewing needles


IIn the Roman army we find the first approaches of a militaryity industry. Under Emperors Augustus (63 before 14 to Christ), the first time injured the legions were taken to the perfect time, with the aim of perfecting their professional knowledge, and thus the burden of the views can increase in higher ranks of the military hierarchy. The organization of the militaryity industry was, however, the heterstick structure, in the very time for the time at the time. As incentive to doctors for the little lucrative military service, from the Rome, the possibility of paid training was already created: the doctor as "immunis" (frozen, h. Of stone cocks or construction work). After training, the survey was led in the officer's rank. The working conditions of military doctors were quite good - in fortified stored stands were a separate building, the "valetudinarium", where injured and diseased soldiers of service-stroke soldiers could be separated. To the wound supply at Celsus we find the detailed description of a condom in the field of several layers:


Ligatures were carried out by Galen and also Orebasius (325-995 AD) with strong diagonic threads (Teubner Op.cit). As already Celsus (1st year ago, galen also emphasized the need to use a thread from non-slight material for vascular luminaires (Errerdt E., which is used in the surgery, the seams and nodes in historical representation. Collection of clinical lectures 1910, 580/581: 175-213) "(Monika Franziska Maria Flury, the development of surgical suture material as a prerequisite and sequetra- surgical activities and scientific research, District Würzburg 2002 p. 6). To the ancient needles Some needles are clearly surrenderly as a surgery: The multifunctionality is a characteristic feature of the craftsmanship of the Roman doctor, which is made of a dimensional heights, one is the one here the one-way of the here is one-way, one of the end of the end of a spoon (diameter 5 mm).


Length of the Needles: upper needle 122 mm lower needle 111 m.


Antique instrument bodies 120 mm Lower 115 mm antique instrument boxes The scalpel, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case of bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks in the (s), bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case of bone, buttons and hooks in the case, bone lifts, needles and hooks were in the case, bone lifts, Testimony of the Grübsteine e.g. From the Asklepion of Athens or the Grave Crime for the doctor P. Aelius Pius Curtianus in Praeneste / Palastrina.


Rare, even pliers have been stored so. But leather roles were found that have served to transport instruments.

Antique medicine

Silphium, a contraceptive plant

Coin Kyrenaika 200-100 BC


In Antiquity  the Kyrenaika was populated by Berbers, the Libya, who several times attacked Egypt in the 10th century. 

Odyssos should be stranded here with his friends. The famous historian Herodot (about 480-420 BC) reports how the citizens of thera remind what the founding of their colony of Cyrene in Libya. From these Greeks colonies, significant cities developed: Kyrene was founded as a Greek colony of Alt-Thera on the Cyclades Island Santorin, and how was transferred to 630 v. Chr. From Aristotle to Thera ruled. Soon, the Greek Cyrene secondary branches in Bark, Euhesperides and Daucheira, and with their Greek cultural, cultivated the appearance of this area almost 1200 years. After Kyrene had succeeded in the Persian attacks under the battities, the monarchy was 440 v. Chr. With the Libyan residents of the area, Kyrene joined a states of the state, at his tip, a king (Battos). The Kyrenaika became the 4th century V. Chr. Part of the Ptolemeal. After the fall of the Persian, renamed, the Kyrenees founded the covert of five states under the protection of Egyptian Ptolemese 321. 117 Ward Kyrenaika converted into a kingdom under a disciples of branches of the Ptolemical Royal Family. 96 v. As Cyrenaica under the rule of Rome and Durden 74 v. Chr. Roman province. The country was unusual fertilitous. brought oil, figs, dates, almonds, wine, cucumbers, truffles, wheat, fragrant flowers; Also, cattle, bes. Horses, astrings, bees, but also devastating grasshoppers in the oppression.


The classic exporting articles were part of the V.Chr since the 6th century. The spice and medicinal plant Silphium. Silphium Silphium (Ital Silfio) grew only in the Kyrenaaica, in a country belt, which started from 30 miles from the sea, was 30 miles in the country and was 250 miles long. Silphium grew solely on this belt, since, according to Greek writers, in 617 BC. The floor in the area of the gardens of the heperidas and the big syrto suddenly beaten by a peel black. The effect of this rain is intended to have over 4000 stadiums. The silphium could not cultivate otherwise notes otherwise, it had endemed in Kyrenaica. The root had been more than ellenang, and just over the earth, a tanner was found. This tailor should, if you have acknowledged it, a milky juice that is easily released in saliva. The stem who grew up was called "Magydaris". The leaves of the silhphon, which were also the same seeds (?), Fell in the early street of the dog star - mid to the end of summer. The leaf carrot was in the Roman cuisine as a spice. Within a year, the plant had been grown. Heart shaped fruit "Phyllon". From the yellow petals, perfume was produced, the leaves served as a kitchen spice. As the leaves of the plant tasted, we can not say so; After her extinction, silhphon was replaced by the Persian asian or stinkasant, which today is considered a characteristic violence in India and has a luggage, highly dose sensitive penalt aromatic. In the modern playback of antique recipes, silphium is usually equated with the stinkasant functionlessly. Medical but estimated the resin, which was won by strikes from the root or the stem, the "opo". In the Altgriechian, the word "opos" did not defense any plant juice - and, again, finds out in the word "opium". This "opo" gained from the roots was the special remedy. The extraction of the "OPOS" was similar to today at ASA Foetida, by cutting the strong root and the exiting rubber resin-containing milk juice after the drying, was collected, collected, kneaded and packed for the export.


Silphium juice was used in different compositions and preparations, including a hair growth, lepramittic, in coughing, sod burn, fever, digestiveness, polleins, epilepsy and pain. Locally, he was applied to chickening eyes and other revices and burned her away (CF. "Wolfmilch" Euphorbium). At women, he brought the menstruation into gang and helped to follow the downhill. Silphium juice was considered a natural contraceptive, probably because of an estrogen-like vegetable drug, a phytooestrogen. For this purpose, one used a drink from the leaves of the plant, in wine "residual" OPOS "or with juice pedestrian vocalow ... SORANUS OF EPHESUS, who practiced in the Raeans (98-117) and Hadrian (117 - 138) in Rome, the weekly acknowledged the premises of the premises of the premises of the premises of the premises and a certainly the juice of the" OPOS ", which was the" opo "is defeated, the plant was already as extincted ... Obviously, he worked with a" replacement ", which was made of stinkasant and imported from Persia and Armenia to Rome. Modernial investigations have shown that plants of the same family (ASA Foetida) act as a reliable nationizer as a "pill after it" by blocking the progesterone production. Dioscorides (40-90 NC.) And Galen (129-199 NC.)


Recommended as the antibonic concept of the pomegranate. Today, today knows that in the cores of the pomegranate estrogen in high concentrations is located. All these agents explain how it described the Romans in the first 5 centuries of our time-announcement, to limit their family to 1-2 children ... At the beginning, the silphium was still a rather of women used and controlled medicine. The demand for the silhmoon gradually rose to the immense, and finally it was even bearily silted with silver denominations. Due to the great demand, the silhphon was harvested. From candidate, the powers of the country, on which the Silphium grew, grew her cattle to catch the stocks and thus the price to increase height. Climate change was increasingly becoming the area in which the silphium grew up to the desert. Which of these reasons was decisive, be there. The fact is that the herb finally stopping: the last found silphium plant should be sent to Emperor Nero, which is known to be 54-68 A. Chriser. The former meaning of the silhouette for the Kyrenic European can be read out that the silphium or parts thereof was shown to almost all Kyrenic acids. Exhibited is a 14 mm, 3.1 g of heavy, bronze coin from kyrene, with both sides (!) Of a silhmith plant - a coin (misary?) From the time of the independent kingdom, since during the Roman crew of the country of the classic provincial stylus with Avers prevails the Emperor profile. The conservation state of the coin presented here is unprecedented. Nevertheless, I prefer a bad original of a pike fence: for the better recognition of the plant including the sketch of a good-shaped coin with an imperial head and silhium. Origin of the coin: Private collection in Issaquah, Washington District, USA.

Antique medicine

Spatula probe

Spatula probe (lat .: spathomela)



This type of probe is one of the multipurpose devices that were increasingly used in a non-medical context (see spoon probes) and thus does not allow the sole determination of a physician's grave. The shape is similar to the end of the scalpel, so it is flat and often provided with Mittelgrat.

In the medical field he could e.g. be used as a tongue depressor or, similar to the scalpel handle, to spread apart wound edges. In addition, this type can be used especially for everything that has to do with rubbing, stirring and application.

The blade of the spatula presented here is flat on one side, and also provided on the other side with a ridge, thus a greater longitudinal stability has been achieved. Leaf with elegant notch at the base.

Length 143 mm, size of the leaf 64x12 mm, handle on a length of 57 mm, seven-edged, then the following, broken handle on the obtained length of 16 mm with indicated oval cross-section.


Antique medicine

Speculum from Pompei

Pompei 1


Underwood & Underwood was founded in 1881 in Ottawa, Kansas, by the brothers Elmer Underwood and Bert Elias Underwood. In 1887, the flourishing company moved to New York. In 1895 the company made several recordings in Italy, i.a. one in the Museum of Naples, where the artefacts from the "surgeon's house" from Pompeii were kept and exhibited.

While all the photographs in historical books are two-dimensional, Underwood's photographs convey a three-dimensional view of the objects - they appear "within reach".



Legitimate (?) Doubt the Roman origin of these instruments is the engineer Andreas Tschurilow, who lives in Deggendorf / Bavaria, who believes to be able to present evidence that Pompei was still inhabited in the 17th century. In particular, it disturbs the thread of the speculum uteri.

As far as I know, screws with square nuts only appeared at the end of the Renaissance and were made only manually with files.The first project of a workbench for the manufacture of screws was offered by Besson (France) in 1569. But his idea in the Only a watchmaker named Hindli (England) put the practice into practice in 1741. Leonardo da Vinci has preserved a sketch of a further developed machine - the prototype of a top lathe - and he had several revolutionary ideas: firstly, with the help of a set of gear wheels Secondly, the thread chisel was not in the worker's hand, but fixed in the tool carriage, thirdly a constant direction of rotation was used, that is, threads of such quality as I saw in the Neapolitan Museum can not be used earlier than Be the end of the 15th century ".


So do the instruments come from the workshop of a smith from the 17th century? And did the "Roman surgeon" actually practice in the 17th century?

Origin: Cardiff / UK.

Antique medicine

Spoon probe



"The spoon probe is a multipurpose instrument that has not only found application in the field of medicine. The actual spoon is slim and narrow, the shape either semicircular or V-shaped. The other side may be, for example, a needle that can be used to sense foreign objects, but also olive-like thickening that could be used, for example, to burn out wounds. Between the two ends is a more or less long narrow handle whose transitions could have been decorated.


In the simplest case, the spoon probe could be used to dose, mix and administer remedies. She also found her use in cosmetics, where cosmetics were mixed and applied. In medicine, the spoon probe was also used a lot for cleaning and cleaning wounds and for scratching out fistulas. Even today, the spoon probe is in use by the doctors, but is then addressed as a sharp spoon or curette "(cited


Occasionally the instrument case and the medicine box were combined into a polyvalent box of lead or bronze (lat .: pecillotheca). In his travel case, the Roman doctor took a variety of equally polyvalent instruments with him, but also remedies - he was often a pharmacist at the same time.


The containers of drugs were often made of lead, because their toxicity had not been recognized. Others were made of wood. Many medications were conditioned in the form of collyrene, rods from which one could slice (the precursors of our tablets). Other drugs were presented in granule or pill form.
Roman pharmacology includes so-called ointment boxes, a combination of medicament box and friction plate (porphyry, slate, marble), sometimes with sleeve for pharmaceutical equipment.
The ointments touched on the plate were applied to the wound with ornately decorated spatulas, the extent of which he had previously explored with the button-shaped end of the wound ...


Presented spoon probe (lat .: cyathiscomela)
Length above. 114 mm
Length of the sheet 43 mm
Max. Width 14 mm.

Antique medicine

Toiletry items (1)



Bronze cutlery consisting of a scraper (length 184 mm) (2), an ear spoon (length 156 mm) (3) and a small nail accessory (4). (*)

1. The scraper could be a double-edged razor for scraping off body hair on the arms and legs.


2. Very common were the spoon probes whose end was formed into a mostly long oval "spoon". Many such "spoons" had a strikingly sharp edge and could be used to scrape out fistulas or uteri. A. "Krug" refers to a subform of these spoon probes, the so-called "ear spoon": thin sticks with a slightly angled round spoon at one end, which initially served to clean the outer ear canal, but could certainly be used by the doctor for cleaning wounds, for probing bullet wounds, probing the urinary tract or, in the case of blood lettings, controlling the exiting blood stream. If the spoon rim was sharp, these probes could also be used to scratch out fistulas or hemorrhoids. The spoon probe shown here probably belongs to this ear spoon type.


3. The nail accessory is much easier to work than the model shown above. It consists only of a retractable between two protection leaves tip.
The devices presented here are from central England, a southern suburb of the city of Birmingham, where they were excavated near a former Roman military camp (other camps extended to the northwest Luguvallium / Carlisle, Mancunium / Manchester, etc.)



(*) E. Riha, Rom. Toilettgerät u. medicine. Instruments a. Augst u. Kaieraugst Forsch.i.Augst Bd.6, 1987

Antique  medicine

Toiletry items (2)



In the year 16 BC the Romans founded the city of Augusta Treverorum, today's Trier. In the second half of the third century Trier became a bishop. From 271 to 274 the city was the residence of the Gallo-Roman counter-emperor Tetricus I. In 286 AD. The Roman Empire fell into two parts, Trier became imperial residence for the Western Empire under Emperor Maximilianus. As a result of this revaluation began in Trier a brisk building activity, which was continued under Emperor Constantius Chlorus and reached its peak under Emperor Constantine. Et al several spas were built:

- Barbara Baths,

- Imperial Baths,

- thermal baths "at the cattle market",

in which the people could pursue their favorite activity: laze in the public bath.


The purifying body bath belonged to the Roman everyday life. Then as now, black fingernails were considered a proof of lack of personal hygiene. Mourning margins under the nails testify to manual work. Since such was always regarded as a dishonor to people of rank, "clean" fingernails were from time immemorial an insignia of the higher social strata, "clean" nails were considered to be the sign of those who had achieved something: the intellectuals, clerics, etc .. Thus, we find appropriate instruments of cleaning to the utensils of the fine Romans who cared for their noble body in public bathing or in the private bath maintained.

Both Egyptians and Romans wore the wedding ring on the 4th finger of the left hand. The reason for this was the belief that a vein of this finger leads directly to the heart and thus to love. However, in ancient Rome, only women wore a marriage or engagement ring. He was considered a sign of attachment, but above all as a "receipt" for the dowry! One watched the ladies accordingly "on the fingers" to know, where one [man] was with them - one more reason to keep the fingers always ...

Antique medicine

Toilery items (3): Strigilis

Panonien (Hungary) Bronze, 2.-4. century. BC. 


The most intimate connection between baths and ointments is always apparent from the writings of the ancient physicians. They affect the healthy as well as the sick. The oils and ointments not only make the skin supple and give it substance. Rather, the body also absorbs the flavors and other things through the skin. It seems ancient times knew about it. ..

The Romans did not like hairy as the monkeys get into the bathroom. They therefore shaved from head to toe. They then washed the body with potash (potassium carbonate, K2CO3), called borite, which had a cleansing effect similar to that of our soaps.

The solid soap was first known to the Romans in contact with the Gauls, who used it as a hair care and coloring agent. The Romans initially used these soaps only as cosmetics. Only from the 2nd century AD. they used soap for cleansing - the firmer Germanic soap was particularly popular, to which they added fragrances from the Mediterranean ... (GALENUS is the first to testify that the Romans used soap for washing). Pumice, clayey earth and bath oils completed the arsenal of care products ...

The excess potash of the "soap" attacked the skin (discolored hair, among other things!). So it was only logical if the Romans oiled themselves after the ablution and massaged themselves in this state. Athletes additionally used sand to clean the body, which combined with the oil to form a puffy layer. This one grazed one (or let itself of a servant remove) with a "strigilis" resp. "Strigilles" (French le racloir, German the scraper) from arm and leg off. Oiling and scraping could take place in the same room, but also in two separate rooms

- the "unctorium" for oiling,

- the "destrictarium", to scrap the oil. In the Greek palaces, the space was usually arranged around the peristyle courtyard.



In both rooms, the bather could resort to the help of medically trained staff:

- the "aliptes", the masseur,
- the "iatraliptes", a bath doctor who had real medical knowledge.

The Romans rubbed in olive oil and then removed excess oil with a scraper. This oil-soluble dirt was removed while maintaining the skin. Whether the bather should oil before or after bathing, or both before and after the bath, the doctors argued (CELSUS, GALENUS).

Bathers carried a ring with two or three strigels and an oil container attached to it - a beautiful specimen in the Museum of Naples. They were used - occupied by historical sources (Kotera-Feyer 1993, 3 ff.) - Initially, only by athletes in the Palästra and were therefore initially found only in graves of male individuals. Relatively soon, however, Strigiles were also used by women for body cleansing and care, as can be seen on vase paintings. However, the strigiles always played only a minor role in the life and burial of women (Prohászka 1998, 801).

Presented is a single (unfortunately broken) 22x17 cm Strigilis with hollow handle from the 2nd-4th Century AD, which originates from the old part of Buda (pest) in Hungary - at the time of the Romans called the city Aquincum - the city of the water: from a more evocative place the Badeutensil could hardly originate ...
On one of the Danube islands near Aquincum, the so-called "shipyard island" of Obuda, one found extensive wall remnants of a governor's villa. This possessed a large, luxurious private bath.
(Le Caducee, 26 rd du Chevreuil, Brussels).



Lit. :
- M. Weber, Antike Badekultur, C.H. Beck Verlag, München 1996.
- Kotera-Feyer, Ellen: Die Strigilis. Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, New York, Paris, Wien, 1993. XV, 241 Seiten mit zahlreichen Abbildungen. Europäische Hochschulschriften, Reihe 38: Archäologie Band 43.
- E. Künzl, Strigilis. In: Der Neue Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike 11 (Stuttgart/Weimar 2001) Sp. 1055.

Antique medicine


Roman toothpick from Trier

The Romans often suffered from toothache. So they came up with strange ideas: frogs were boiled in vinegar, and the broth was used to rinse one's mouth. There was even the superstition that the urine of little boys would be good for the teeth.

The Latin word "dentiscalpium" proves that the ancient Romans knew a device with which to brush their teeth. In his book "The Banquet", part of a 16-volume opus, Petronius ARBITER, a contemporary of Nero's, describes how the host brushed his teeth with a "spica argentea", a silver pest, before eating. However, this seems to be the only Roman passage in which a metal object was used as a toothpick. In general, the Romans used natural products for oral care mastic, quills): M. Valerius MARTIALIS, born from 40-103 AD. lived, thought in his works of a toothpick not less than 4 times. Thus, in the 14th book of his "Epigrammaton libri" he left us a kind of vocabulary in which, under the rubric "Dentiscalpium", he knows that in the absence of a hardwood stick one may also use a feather to clean the teeth:

Lentiscus melius: sed si tibi frondea cuspis
Defuerit, debtes pinna levare potest.

Presumably, the metal toothpick was combined with other devices of body cleansing (tongue scraper, ear spoon or head scraper) to a bunch. The instrumentation made of a copper alloy presented here was found in 1999 on the occasion of a private excavation (Ursulinenstrasse) in Trier. The ring has a diameter of 36 mm, the tooth (?) Scraper has a length of 67 mm, the broken peg (?) Resp. the remainder of an ear spoon (?) is only 40 mm long. Even if the cutlery was not a toothpick at first, it became so when the spoon resp. the other part broke: "recycling" in the old days.

At the beginning of modern times, the pommel became an indispensable accessory: in the estate of the merchant Lucas Reiff, who died in Luxembourg in 1768, we find "Un cure-dent, se trouve d'or, pèse 3 quintels à 7 patacons le lot" (N. van Werveke, Cultural History of the Lux. Land III, Luxembourg 1926 p. 72).




Hans Sachs, Der Zahnstocher und seine Geschichte. Eine kulturgeschichtlich-kunstgewerbliche Studie (Reihe: Kulturgeschichte der Zahnheilkunde in Einzeldarstellungen, Band 1, 62 S Orig.Leinen kl4°; mit 87 Abbildungen und 1 Tafel, Berlin 1913


Hirschfelder, Gunther, Europäische Esskultur. Geschichte der Ernährung von der Steinzeit bis Heute. 2001, 327 S. ISBN: 3593368153

Antique medicine


Size 81 x7 mm


Small tweezers belonged as epilation tweezers (tricholabis, vulsella) in every make-up case! They are therefore among the most common finds and can only be considered as surgical instruments if they are found in a medical context (doctor's grave, accompanying instruments).

From Egypt, the Roman troops several times overslept trachoma throughout the empire; a bacterial disease that led to suppuration of the eyes and blindness - still a topic in the Orient. The trachoma with its ingrown eyelashes may explain the large number of tweezers that are found as a grave supplement: they were used to epilate the eyelids (!)

Antique medicine

Uvula forceps



The uvula forceps was developed for the amputation of the uvula. This procedure was described by Aetius in the first half of the 6th century: before the suppository was cut off, it was extended by means of said pliers.

Several of these pliers were found. The British Museum in London uses a 197 mm long uvula pliers from the 1st to 2nd century. Century: "Uvula crushing forceps".


The best known is probably the "Parisian pliers". In 1880, behind the theater in the Av. Des Gobelins, near the Place d'Italie, in the southeast of present-day Paris, a significant find was made. Even if the find of Tabanelli (*) is counted as a grave find, one may announce doubt on this theory. Because of the simultaneously found 75 coins (Tetricus I and Tetricus II, to 274 AD), one may rather assume that the material was buried by its owner when the Franks invaded Paris in 275. In this dispute, the owner was apparently killed. North of the site was the Christian cemetery of Saint Marcel in the 4th century. The Parisian treasure included:
- 1 copper kettle

- 1 ointment stone made of white marble

- 1 cupping head

- 1 box of silvered bronze

- 5 round gilded or silvered bronze rifles containing metal-based (copper oxide) remnants of medicine.

- 5 tweezers

- 2 brackets

- 2 pliers

- 2 spatula probes

- 2 probes

- 3 scalpel handles

- 1 spoon with spout

- 1 fork

- 1 clip (with lancet?)

The find initially went to the private collection Toulouze-Piketty-Taté / Paris and was then lost (**). Now part of the collection of "Mairie de Paris": "Trousse de chirurgien, dernier quart du IIIe siècle après J.-C?".


Presented is a uvula forceps, acquired in 1999 in Luxembourg from the estate of a German collector, whose relatives insisted on anonymity. Length 200 mm. In our Roman collection, this instrument is the only one consisting of two joined parts. In this context, let us remind you that even the Romans knew the technique of soldering (brass parts were connected with a liquid metal, such as galmei), seldom screws were used, and in the exhibit shown we find the then common assembly by means of rivets.




(*) M. Tabanelli, Lo strumento chirurgico e la sua storia, 1958.

(**) E. Künzl, Medizinische Instrumente aus Sepulkralfunden der römischen Kaiserzeit, 2. Aufl 1983 S.74

(***) Th. Meyer-Steineg und Sudhoff, Geschichte der Medizin im Überblick mit Abb. 1922, S. 37.