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Detailed Images

Basic Information

Artifact Identification Awl   (1914.05.0064)
  1. Materials T&E
  2. :
  3. Leather, Horn & Shellworking T&E
  4. :
  5. N/A
Artist/Maker None
Geographic Location
Period/Date Ptolemaic (?), 305 – 30 BCE?
Culture Egyptian

Physical Analysis

Dimension 1 (Length) 16.7 cm
Dimension 2 (Diameter) 0.5 cm
Dimension 3 (N/A) N/A
Weight 14 g
Measuring Remarks None
Materials Metal--Iron
Manufacturing Processes Forging
Munsell Color Information Black (N2.25) -ns

Research Remarks

Published Description

"The specillum, or pointed probe, composed of a simple shaft with a square section tapered to a point, is one of the most common medical instruments to survive from antiquity. Numerous examples have been covered at Pompeii and herculaneum. Like most well-designed medical instruments, it continued in use until the end of the Empire with form and decoration remaining basically unchanged. Among the surgical procedures for which it was employed is the opening and exploration of fistulas, and the examination of the ear. When wrapped in wool, it could be used to wipe away discharges, or to apply fluid medicaments to the eye or ear. n the latter procedure, a piece of wool would be soaked with the medicine, and gently squeezed around the shaft to allow the fluid to run down and drip off the tip. The versatile instrument was used equally in the domestic setting. often found among the troves of ancient toiletry articles, it was used to extract kohl from cosmetic tubes, and to apply it to the eyes. As a writing stylus, it was used to inscribe and erase characters in wax tablets. For other examples of the specillum, many combined with a small flat disk at one end for cleaning the ears, see Kunsel, 1983, p. 48, fig. 16, nos. 30-35 (Romisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz), p.. 49, fig. 17, nos. 3, 6 (Private Collection, Meyer-Steineg, Jena), p. 98, fig. 78, p. 99, fi. 79 (Rheinisches Landemuseum, Bonn); Tabanelli, pl. XLI (Museo Romano-Germanico di Magonza), XLIII (Biblioteca Ambrosiana di Milano); Milne, pl. XVIII (author's collection)." -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. The British Museum. Antinoupolis at the British Museum Online Catalog. Griffith Institute Archives, University of Oxford. John de Monins Johnson photographic negatives. 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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