Surgical instrument set, Persian, 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Three of the items have ivory handles decorated with a lion's head motif, while one of the knives has a metal handle decorated with a ram's head. The scisors have folding handles. Although surgery was practised by untrained asistants in the early years of Islamic medicine, after the decline of the Roman Empire, medical knowledge transferred to North Africa and the Middle East, resulting in increasingly sophisticated medical practices. Expert surgeons used finely crafted tools similar to those shown here.