When you think of the Swiss Army Knife you would have thought it was invented in Switzerland – and it was, unless you count Roman’s version as the first one. A spoon, a knife, a fork, and toothpick – all the tools you need to extract the meat out of the shells of seafood. This was a very popular tool that the Romans used.
There was even a spatula that may have been a toothbrush or to is used for scooping paste out of bottles. This Roman army knife can be found in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Of course, we do not really know what it was used for exactly and as there has only been one found it seems they were never mass produced. In fact, given how well preserved and beautiful the device is, it may just have been a wealthy Roman who wanted to show off to his friends.
The belief is it would have been the possession of a wealthy merchant who was probably a frequent traveler. One could think of him pulling it out in an Inn or a tavern and showing it off like people do these days with a new iPhone. The strange thing is there is no evidence at all that Romans used forks at the dinner table, that being said they did use them for surgical operations – so maybe the owner was a doctor?
The amazing thing is the device is made out of silver, which is even rarer, Bronze knives or spoons are quite regular but a silver one is unheard of. There have been a couple of similar devices found in a Bulgarian tomb and also in Northern Italy, which means they are very rare. The design is so well made it has to have been put together by master craftsmen.
It could have been used to dissect lobsters or crunch snails or walnuts even!