Roman 'Leatherman' spied on web
Multi-tools join sanitation, roads, the fresh water system, public health as stuff the Romans did for us
And there you were tinking that the Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife in your pocket was a relatively modern invention. Not so - the Romans had multi-tool gadgets too.
Case in point: the "compound utensils" held in the collection of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Musuem, snaps of which were recently posted on the institution's website and subsequently spotted by Neatorama.
Manufactured from iron and silver, the multiplex knife contains a blade of fearsome pointiness, a fork, a spatula, a spike and a pick.
The utensil was actually described way back in 1988 by archaeologist David Sherlock in his seminal work A combination Roman eating implement, published in the Antiquaries Journal, [xlix, 310-311] and which harks back to Sherlock's earlier opus Roman folding spoons [Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, 62, 1976, p.128-129].
The gadget was manufactured between AD201 and AD300. ®
...It was called the SPQRK. Didn't catch on though, no-one could pronounce it.
So Swiss Army Knife patents
As this is clearly prior art the Swiss Army must be panicing over their patented knife. Any tolls out there should clearly be looking to head for East Texas now.
no amphora-bung remover? - or that thing for scraping hedgehogs off chariot wheels?
But did they invent security theater?
I wonder if the Romans had guards on the roads telling the traveler he had to check that implement on the pack wagon.
All you needed
was one of these and a couple of pairs of clean subligaria and the (Roman) world was your oyster.