A Romano-British medical set

Roman medical implements.
(left to right: PRM 1884.140.530, 1884.140.531, 1884.140.1532 &1884.140.509)

Four Roman medical implements have recently been catalogued and researched as part of the Excavating Pitt-Rivers project. These implements are made of copper alloy and would have been cast and then hammered into shape. These objects are recorded as being from London Wall where we know Pitt-Rivers completed excavations in 1865, 1866 and 1867.

The two implements on the left are waisted leaf-shaped spatulas; they would have been used to mix and apply ointments to patients. Sometimes the spatula was also used as a cautery, as a tongue depressor and as a blunt dissector (Baker 2009).

The two implements on the right are spoon probes with olivary ends. These are similar to the spatula probe, but have narrow leaf shaped spoons in place of the spatula. The spoon could have been used for a number of different purposes to remove medicines from containers, to mix ointments, as a curette and possibly in lithotomy operations. The olivary end could also be used to mix ointments, to create a drip effect, to explore fistula and examine carious bone. (Baker 2009).

More information on these particular objects and other Roman medical implements can be found in this paper by Patricia Baker

Pitt-Rivers in Acton

The time Pitt-Rivers spent in London is of particular interest to the project. Not only is the material he collected of great interest, ranging from Paleolithic flint implements to medieval ceramics, it also provides a wealth of information about his collecting methods.

The Excavating Pitt-Rivers team has just started working on the stone implements that were recovered during the Generals fieldwork at Acton in 1869, 1870, 1871 and 1874. He was specifically interested in this area due to the flint implements that were being recovered and he believed they were a link between Palaeolithic and Neolithic technologies. The flint implements that we hold at the PRM were collected both by Pitt-Rivers and also acquired from workmen, excavating brick-earth, who were shown examples of the types of stone implements that might be found.

One of the many stone implements collected from Acton, High Terrace Gravel (PRM 1884.122.333).
Whilst examining and cataloguing the stone tools a section of the Acton High Terrace Gravel, drawn by Pitt-Rivers, was discovered. In this section he illustrates the geological strata and marks where he found the sharp flakes.  Along with this a number of labels were discovered that were clearly used when displaying the specimens found in the Acton area.
A section drawn, by Pitt-Rivers in 1871, of the Acton, High Terrace Gravel where he collected a number of flit implements.
The material collected has very detailed labeling and we hope to pin-point when and where Pitt-Rivers was in Acton.