Tools Used in Ancient Rome

For twelve centuries, the Roman Empire stood as the greatest civilizations in history. Spanning from Rome, Italy across Europe and parts of Asia Minor, the Roman Empire saw both glory and suffering. Great wars were fought in the name of Rome and entire civilizations were conquered to ensure the glory of Rome stood unquestioned. However, the Romans techniques in battle and warfare were not what made Rome great. The tools that they used to build their empire, both for battle and for architecture, ventured paths in history that will never be forgot. Their keen use of metals such as bronze and Iron, and even steel, were unrivaled. It is fitting that today’s world still uses most of the tools designed and perfected by this ancient civilization, though, in some cases you would hardly recognize them as ancient Roman tools.

Today’s medical achievements owe their existence to ancient Roman tools. It was Rome and Greece that open the world to “modern” medicine, as well as surgery. Our surgeons and doctors still use most of the same ideas, teachings, philosophies and tools as the ancient Romans. The scalpel is one of the greatest surgical tools ever created by an ancient civilization. It was comprised, typically, of bronze or iron and mostly came in two sizes. The larger of these were commonly used for long, or deep incisions, while the shorter scalpel was used for more fine detail surgeries. The ancient Romans were also responsible for bone hooks, which were used for several purposes. The blunted hooks were used as probes to assist with dissections, as well as raising blood vessels. The sharp hooks were typically used for holding or lifting small flaps of tissue to be extracted, as well as retracting the edges of most injuries.

Also in surgery, the ancient Roman tools included bone forceps for extracting fragments of bone from wounds, especially to the skull. Bone Levers were invented for use in levering bones into place that had been fractured, as well as removing teeth. It was the ancient Romans, especially the doctor Soranus, the first gynecologist and obstetrician, that had created the vaginal speculum, as well. However, their additions to the tools of today are not only medical. They also designed incredible tools for metal crafting.

The ancient Romans were the first to perfect cast metal and used that perfection to create the first cast metal hammer head. This tool was then used for more complicated metal forging, like weapons and armor. They also created the lathe, using a lathing rod that was shaped from stone. It was turned using a system of gears and ropes that was powered using a treadle press. They also created the most efficient drilling system. The Romans also used tools to pull wire that consisted of stone grates used to pull nearly-molten metal into wire. However, the ancient Roman tools were also designed for versatility, like the scythe. In fact, the scythe was the first consumer item that was produced from cast metal. It was cast from bronze, then iron, and again from black steel. Other ancient Roman tools included the navigational tool called a sextant, as well as counterweights used for sailing that made it more simple to raise and lower the sails of their ships.

Despite these magnificent additions to the world, the ancient Roman tool makers guarded the secrets of their craft and, when the Roman Empire fell, many of their tool designs disappeared along with them, leading into the era known as the Dark Ages. Since then, though, we have rebuilt the tools that helped build the glory of Rome, redesigning them to fit our modern times, and perfecting them. However, the shadows of the ancient designs are still there.