My previous post re clean-shaven Romans prompted questions re the technology used to shave in that era. This video (via Time Travelling) shows a primitive skills educator making his own blade by knapping some obsidian, then shaving with it.
These scanning EMs [credit: William A. Haviland] show that an obsidian blade is as sharp as, and smoother than, a modern steel scalpel.
Obsidian knives have been developed in modern times, but I suspect they could never be employed internally because of their intrinsic brittleness.
Finally, for completeness, Razorland has a gallery of primitive razors (bronze, iron, and copper) from a variety of early cultures.
Absolutely fascinating video. Glad you put the vid up!ReplyDelete
I am not sure what you mean by "never be employed internally." You mean like surgery? http://www.finescience.com/Special-Pages/Products.aspx?ProductId=296ReplyDelete
That's what I meant. I don't think they will be used to resect gallbladders or lung cancer, because if a fragment flaked off, it would be like having broken glass inside the peritoneum.Delete
I looked at both of our links. As with other stuff I've read, the only suggested application is for external (skin) incisions (or removal of dermatologic lesions).
When I was a kid, I read an article about a flintknapper who insisted that his surgeon use obsidian scalpels he made himself. I wish I could find it or remember more, but I do think the surgery was internal and fairly major...Delete
This is fascinating. I once read that Roman soldies on campaign shaved with a block of pumice, so I tried that, and I can report that you can get quite a decent shave with it, but it's painfully slow if you used to a steel blade.ReplyDelete
There are still products out there (like mitts) that a woman can use to basically sand the hair off her legs, but I can say from experience that it is not only slow, but harsh!Delete