Antique medicine

Cataract needle (?)



Needles can only be interpreted as medical instruments if they are found in connection with other instruments that are clearly used for medical purposes. Basically, needles with oehr used for suturing wounds are distinguished from needles without oehr. The thickening of the needle, the Milne (*) at the top suspected "round the tip", this thickening was of course on the handle so that it was firmly in the hand. In a grave in Reims, whose ointment punches and collyrines clearly characterize the tomb as the last resting place of an eye species, found a set consisting of 9 needles made of steel, which were interchangeable - so in principle similar to the scalpels, their knives were also interchangeable. You have to distinguish hollow needles from solid needles. The latter are likely to be star needles used to force the clouded lens out of the optical axis of the eye. Hollow needles indicate that one tried - although without much success - to suck the lens out of the eye (sucking with the mouth?), A technique that the Arabs later tried and soon gave up again, as inconclusive ...

A needle (length about 115 mm, length handle 24 mm, max thickness 10 mm) is presented, which was possibly used medically: on our "star needle", however, that, below the tip attached spherical thickening, as they are missing on the silver instrument of Meyer-Steinegg (**) (Plate VIII fig 10), which should prevent unintentional penetration of the needle! Presumably it is a (banal) hairpin (acus comatoria).


(*) J.St. Milne, Surgical instruments in Greek and Roman Times, 1907 (reprinted 1970) p. 20ff.
(**) Th. Meyer-Steinegg, surgeon. Instruments of antiquity, Jenaer Med.hist. Contrib. 1, 1912 Plate VIII fig. 10