ROMAN COCHLEAR SPOON
Measurements: 17 cm − height, 2.6 cm − width
Description: A Roman bone cochlear spoon terminating in a rounded point. This piece had the practical purpose of extracting meat from bones and the apotropaic purpose of piercing eggshells, according to Pliny in Natural History (XXVIII 4). It has a small circular bowl with concave centre, and the rectangular integral handle extends almost to the centre of the bowl. A short raised rectangular panel close to the bowl decorates the handle, which has two horizontal incisions at each end. From the end of this panel to the spoon's point the handle becomes circular.
This type of spoon was used for a variety of purposes, including the consumption of snails, shellfish and eggs. They are named after cochlea, the Latin for "snail". The piece is similar to metal examples excavated at Colchester and classified by Crummy as Type 1 spoons. The cochlear type, round-bowled with rat-tailed handle belongs to the first and second centuries. Bone was a very rare commodity and was reserved for the nobility and the very wealthy.
Reference: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Crummy, N., Details for Colchester Archaeological Report 2: The Roman small finds from excavations in Colchester, 1971-9, 1983, p. 69, nos. 2008-2011.
De la Bédoyère, G., The Finds of Roman Britain, 1989, p. 101.
Period: 1st - 2nd century AD
Condition: Very fine, with a small chip to the bowl, some damage to the rounded point and a fracture on the handle's underside.