Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Spatula, Roman
    Cypriot
    Bronze; L. 7 3/16 in. (18.29 cm)
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.5509)

    This bronze spatula consists of a long shaft with an olivary point at one end and a broad flat blade, oar-shaped and blunt-edged, at the other. It was a pharmaceutical, rather than strictly surgical, instrument. The olivary point was used for stirring medicaments and the spatula for spreading the mixtures on the affected area. The Roman physician Galen (129–199/216) tells us that certain applications first were to be softened in the palm of the hand with rosaceum by using a spatula. The second-century A.D. Roman physician and poet Marcellus refers to the spatula as used for stirring liquids in a vessel. Almost every ancient Greek and Roman medical writer mentions the spatula, citing various uses—as an instrument for applying medicaments or scraping off ointments, as a tongue depressor, and even as a means of cauterizing.

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  • Spatula, Roman
    Cypriot
    Bronze; L. 7 3/16 in. (18.29 cm)
    The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874-76 (74.51.5509)

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