Probe, Surgical ?


Thumbnail of Probe, Surgical ? (1914.05.0035)

Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Probe, Surgical ?   (1914.05.0035)
  1. Science & Technology T&E
  2. :
  3. Medical & Psychological T&E
  4. :
  5. Medical Instruments
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location
Period/Date Ptolemaic?, 305 – 30 BCE
Culture Egyptian

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 18.8 cm
Dimension 2 (Width) 1.0 cm
Dimension 3 (Depth) 0.6 cm
Weight 13 g
Measuring Remarks Third dimension is thickness of rounded end
Materials Metal--Bronze
Manufacturing Processes Cast
Munsell Color Information Moderate Yellow Green (7.5GY 5/4)

Research Remarks

Published Description

"The spathomele, or spatula probe, used extensively by medical doctors, consists of a probe with an olivary at one end of a long shaft, and a thick, blunt, oar-shaped blade on the other. Mentioned by almost every medical writer, it had multiple pharmacological and surgical applications. The olivary probe could be used to stir medicaments and ointments, and apply them to the affected area. It could also be employed as a sound for large cavities, and as a cautery to destroy the roots of hair after epilation. The spatula could be used for spreading ointments, applying plaster to casts, depressing the tongue, dissecting, and cauterizing. The use of the spathomele was not confined to medical men. It was employed by painters in the preparation and mixing of pigments and by women in the application of cosmetics. Large numbers of the spatula probes have been found, all with the characteristic oar-shaped blade, though varying greatly in outline. For coparative examples, see Kunzel, p. 58, fig. 26, no. 3 (Musee Crozatier, Le Puy), p. 65, fig. 35, no. 23 (Musee des Antiqutes Nationales, Saint Germain-en Laye), p. 72, fig. 46, no. 3 (Rheinisches Landersmuseum, Trier), p. 83, fig. 57, no. 11 (Heimatmuseum, Bingen), p. 90, fig. 68, no. 6 (Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne); Tabanelli, pp. 78-79, nos. 8-10, pl. LIV (Museo romano-Germanico di Magonza); Milne, pp. 58-61, pl. XII, no. 1 (Naples), no. 2 (Romisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz)." -Eunice Dauterman Maguire, Henry Maguire and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers, Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 205.

Description N/A
Comparanda N/A

James, T.G.H. Excavating in Egypt: The Egypt Exploration Society 1882-1982. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. Maguire, Eunice Dauterman, Henry Maguire and Maggie J. Duncan-Flowers. Art and Holy Powers in the Early Christian House. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Artifact History

Archaeological Data N/A
Credit Line/Dedication Egypt Exploration Society
Reproduction No
Reproduction Information N/A

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