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The Roman Army Knife

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  • robert-blau@webtv.net
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247230/The-Roman-Army-Knife-Or-ingenuity-Swiss-beaten-1-800-years.html The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2010
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      The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by
      1,800 years

      Last updated at 9:07 AM on 30th January 2010
      Comments (20)Add to My Stories

      The world's first Swiss Army knife' has been revealed - made 1,800 years
      before its modern counterpart.

      An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it
      is made from silver but has an iron blade.
      It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and
      small tooth-pick.

      Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract
      meat from snails.

      [(photo) Inspired: The Roman army pen knife, a precursor to today's
      popular Swiss Army accessory]

      It is thought the spatula would have offered a means of poking cooking
      sauce out of narrow-necked bottles.

      The 3in x 6in (8cm x 15cm) knife was excavated from the Mediterranean
      area more than 20 years ago and was obtained by the museum in 1991.

      The unique item is among dozens of artefacts exhibited in a newly
      refurbished Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at the Fitzwilliam
      Museum, in Cambridge.
      Experts believe it may have been carried by a wealthy traveller, who
      will have had the item custom made.

      A spokesman said: 'This was probably made between AD 200 and AD 300,
      when the Roman empire was a great imperial power.

      The knife is on display at the Greek and Roman antiquities gallery at
      Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum

      'The expansion of Rome - which, before 500 BC, had just been a small
      central Italian state - made some individuals, perhaps like our
      knife-owner, personally very wealthy.

      'This could have been directly from the fruits of conquests, or
      indirectly, from the 'business opportunities' the empire offered.

      'We know almost nothing about the person who owned this ingenious knife,
      but perhaps he was one of those who profited from the vast expansion of
      Rome - he would have been wealthy to have such a real luxury item.

      'Perhaps he was a traveller, who required a practical compound utensil
      like this on his journeys.' 

      The spokesman added: 'While many less elaborate folding knives survive
      in bronze, this one's complexity and the fact that it is made of silver
      suggest it is a luxury item.
      'Perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.'  

      Modern Swiss Army knives originated in Ibach Schwyz, Switzerland, in
      1897 and were created by Karl Elsener.

      The knives which provide soldiers with a 'battlefield toolkit' have
      since become standard issue for many modern day fighting forces thanks
      to their toughness and quality.

      Nationalist Elsener decided to design the knives after he realised the
      Swiss army were being issued with blades manufactured in neighbouring

      Other popular artefacts include an intricately designed Greek make-up
      box which was custom made almost 3000 years ago for a women of 'wealth
      and status'.

      The round clay make-up container from Athens dates back to 740BC and
      experts believe it may have been stored in a grave in the Ancient Greek
      city for the last 2,700 years.

      The six inch high and 12 inch diameter box would have contained precious
      gems and make up from the era made from a variety of naturally occurring

      [For a bunch of interesting comments, see the webpage:
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