The world’s first army knife was made some 1,800 years ago, long before the Swiss even thought of it. The recently discovered custom-made Roman army knife had been stored in a grave for over a thousand years. Although the blade is iron, the knife is made of silver. It is fully equipped with a spoon, fork, retractable spike used to extract meat from snails, a spatula thought to provide a means to poke sauce out of a narrow bottle and a small toothpick!
The knife is a highly sophisticated and intricately designed implement, which dates back to 200 AD. The identity of the knife’s owner is a mystery, but it is speculated that whoever he was, he was wealthy and might have been one of those individuals who profited from the vast expansion of Rome. He might have been a wealthy traveler, who invented the knife for his own practical purposes. No one will ever know.
The 3-inch X 6-inch knife was actually excavated from an area in the Mediterranean more than twenty years ago. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, obtained the knife back in 1991 and it is one of dozens of amazing artifacts exhibited in a Greek and Roman antiquities gallery.
In the words of one spokesman:
“This was probably made between AD 200 and AD 300, when the Roman Empire was a great imperial power. While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item.”
The quintessential army knife acts as a “battlefield tool kit” and is standard issue for modern day combat forces because of its durability and versatility. Karl Elsener created the modern Swiss Army Knife back to 1897 as an act of national pride. Up to that time, Swiss army soldiers were being issued with blades that were manufactured in Germany.
Other fascinating artifacts exhibited in this gallery include an intricately designed, 3,000-year-old makeup box made for an unknown wealthy woman. Dating back to 740 BC, experts believe it may have been buried in Athens for the last 2,700 years!
One question remains:
Does this mean Swiss cheese may be…dare we say it, another nationality?
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