Retractor (one of an eleven-piece set of medical instruments)
2nd–3rd century A.D.
Place of Manufacture: Eastern Mediterranean
Overall: 15.8 x 0.1 cm (6 1/4 x 1/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Bronze with silver and copper inlay
Hook with handle in the form of a Herakles club. The Hercules motif might have served as a protective device and/or as a symbol of power and excellence.
Part of an almost complete set of surgical/medical instruments. While the tools can be dated to the 2nd century AD, they probably were not part of an excavated find such as a doctor’s grave, but they seem to be from the same original set or at least workshop.
By the 1920s: Marcopoli Collection, Damascus, Syria; by about 1970: imported into the UK by Christie's for the Marcopoli family; by June 2005: consigned by the heir of the last Mrs. Marcopoli to Sotheby's, 1334 York Ave., New York, NY 10021 (auction N08104, June 7, 2005, lot 46); purchased by MFA from Sotheby's New York, June 22, 2005
Museum purchase with funds by exchange from the Gift of the Boston Numismatic Society, Gift of Francis Brooks, Gift of Mr. Samuel L. Cabot, Cesnola Collection, Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation, Gift of Joseph H. Clark, Gift of Miss Helen Collamore, Gift of Mrs. John Templeman Coolidge, Everett Fund, Gift of Henry H. Fay, Gift of Edward Gans, Gift of Mr. Costas E. Goltsos, Gift of Dr. James Grant, Gift of George W. Hammond, Gift of Robert E. Hecht, Gift of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes, Julia Bradford Huntington James Fund, Gift of Reginald Jenney, Gift of Mrs. Henry Lyman, Gift of Edward Robinson, Bequest of Miss Rebecca Salisbury, Gift of Mrs. Henry S. Shaw, Augustine Shurtleff Collection of Coins, Storer Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William deForest Thomson, Gift of Adams Tolman, and Gift of Edwin A. Wyeth, and Classical Deaccession Fund