Silver implement, probably a combined toothpick and ear cleaner, modelled in the shape of an ibis: one of a pair with 1994,0408.146. The bird is long-legged and upright, with a long, curved beak which served as the toothopick, and is complete except only for the feet. The legs have slight swellings to indicate joints. They are attached to a baluster moulding, beneath which is a short stem of chamfered square section ending in an angled flat disc, the ear-pick (or other implement). There are slight traces of gilding on the head and neck of the bird, and the eye is a niello-inlaid circle with a centre dot. The back and wings bear an engraved imbricated feather pattern, originally emphasized with niello, though no trace of inlay now survives. A line of gilding runs down the centre back and around the wing borders. There is also gilding on the moulding at the feet.
- Excavated/Findspot: Hoxne (Hoxne hoard)
- (Europe,British Isles,England,Suffolk,Hoxne (parish))
- Length: 144 millimetres
- Weight: 24.9 grammes
Toilet implements from the Hoxne hoard
Roman Britain, buried in the 5th century AD
Found at Hoxne, Suffolk (1992)
The Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard is the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control. They include these personal cosmetic or toilet utensils made of silver.
The four implements with comma-shaped terminals are toothpicks of a known type. At the other end, they probably all had tiny flat scoops which could have been used for cleaning the ears, or possibly for removing cosmetics from small vessels. The pair of objects in the form of birds (ibises), appear to be much more elaborate versions of the same implement, the birds' beaks forming the toothpick. They are decorated with niello and gilding. The other three objects, two of them a matching pair, also have the scoop end, but they incorporate a socket. It is possible that these contained brushes, and if so, the other end was probably intended for handling cosmetic creams or powders.
1994-1995 Oct-Jan, Ipswich Museum, The Hoxne Treasure
Prehistory and Europe
- T304 (Treasure number)
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Object reference number: BCB90944
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