Roman Medical Instruments

  • Era/Century: Antique
  • Dating: 2nd-3rd century
  • Material: silver, bronze, stone
  • Technique: casting, forging, incising, damascening
  • Dimensions: height 6.1-15.2 cm
  • Property: Belgrade City Museum
  • On Display: No

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The arrival of the Roman legions in the territory of Singidunum brought about a number of changes which affected all spheres of public and private life. Urbanization and contacts with the more developed communities resulted in a considerable rise of the standard of living of the autochthonous population. The remains of public bathing establishments, of water supply and sewage systems and of stone-paved streets show that care was taken of the health and hygiene of the inhabitants of classical Singidunum.

Trained physicians (medici), Greek by origin, were organized in medical collegia and provided a number of specialized medical services: surgery, ophthalmology, dentistry, otorhinolaryngology, gynecology, orthopedics. The army had its hospitals, and one them is referred to in the inscription on a monument discovered at Stojnik. Hospitals modelled on those in the castra were founded in major towns. Some physicians had a private practice. The finds from Singidunum include a variety of medical instruments, such as pincers, various types of sondes, scalpels, special knives, double instruments, hooks, small spoons, etc. Some of these instruments were also used, together with a small scale, in pharmacies. Each medicus was supposed to have some knowledge of pharmacology, i.e. of the preparation of drugs and aromatic balms.

The stamp of an ophthalmologist, discovered in the Lower Town, confirms that Singidunum had a well developed health service, which gained rapid recognition with the spreading of the cult of Aesculapius.

Published in Antiquity


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