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Roman "Swiss Army Knife"

Fitzwilliam Museum

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  • Intro
    Museum's Description
    Teacher notes
    • What an incredible object! You may have heard of a Swiss Army Knife, it is a pocket knife with many tools attached to it. This is a similar kind of thing, but Roman instead of Swiss.

      This one dates to about 200 - 300 AD, so about 1,600 years before the modern Swiss Army Knives were designed. As you can see, the design has hardly changed. As well as a knife, spoon and a fork, this one has a spike, a pick and a spatula. The spike might have been used to get the meat from snails and the pick might have been used as a sort of tooth pick.

      The fact that this knife is made of Silver suggests it was a luxury item and might have been owned by a wealthy traveller or a general in the Roman army.

      Things to think about...
      • Why do you think a multi-tool like this would have been useful?
      • Can you imagine what the person who owned this would have been like?
      Also, if you're interested in the Roman Army, then you might like to see a Roman Helmet found near Kent.


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