Surgical instrument set, Persian, 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A set of surgical instruments consisting of: two surgical knives, one with an ivory handle decorated with a lion head motif, the other with a metal handle decorated with a ram's head; a scalpel with a blade that folds into the handle; a pair of scisors with 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.