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Cignus, Roman Spoon with Oval Bowl and Swan’s Head Handle, Brass
Ancient Roman spoons are commonly classified in two main types:
While the cochlearium (pl. cochlearia) had a smaller bowl (also called head) and a straight handle tapering into a sharp point, the larger, heavier ligula (pl. ligulae) featured a rather generously sized, often oval bowl and a handle with rounded end or finial.
The cignus (Pl. cigni) was a particular type of ligula. This spoon had also a large, oval-shaped bowl, but was equipped, unlike the common ligula, with a shortened, recurved handle which terminated in a stylised water bird's or swan's head (Latin for swan = cygnus, hence the name).
This spoon type with distinctive handle is assigned to the Late Antiquity (ca. 4th/5th century A.D.). Various excavations unearthed late Roman cigni crafted from base metals as well as noble metals (bronze, silver) and featuring diverse variations of this particular handle shape. Archaeologists believe that these short-handled spoons were primarily general-purpose eating spoons. The close examination of a number of finds, especially the analysis of specific wear marks, suggest that they were most likely designed as tablespoons to spoon up liquid foods from bowls with curving walls. However, it cannot be ruled out that swan's head spoons were also used as serving implements to pour liquids.
This reproduction of a cignus with deep, large, almond-shaped bowl (oval with slightly pointed tip) is made of brass. The short handle represents an outward-facing swan head on an S-shape coiling neck. This nice piece of Roman cutlery lends itself perfectly for Living History purposes and is a great addition to any Roman reenactor's equipment.
- Material: brass
- Overall length: approx. 9.6 cm
- Handle dimensions: approx. 3.5 cm long / 2.3 cm high
- Bowl dimensions: approx. 6.4 cm long / 3.2 cm wide (at broadest point)
- Weight: approx. 23 g
Not suitable for direct contact with food.