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ARMY ROMAN SILVER; Pocket tool beats Swiss invention by 1800 years.

Byline: Michael Carroll

HERE is the proof that the Romans invented the first type of Swiss Army knife - almost 2000 years ago.

Thei r ver s ion of t he multi-purpose pocket tool has a spoon, knife, three-pronged fork, spike and what looks like a toothpick.

And it was around centuries befor e the wel l known, red-handled penknife that originated in Switzerland in 1897. The ancient tool has gone on di splay at the Fi t zwi l l i am Mus eum i n Cambridge.

Spike S p o k e swoma n L u c y Theobald said: "It's believed to be an example of a Roman Swiss Army knife.

"It's a silver implement with a knife, spoon, fork, a spike for extracting meat from snails, and a spatula, which is believed to have been used for poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles."

At only 15cm long, it would have f it ted easi ly into the pocket and is easy to clean and sharpen thanks to the silver and iron used to make it.

It is estimated to date from between 201 and 300AD and or ig inates f rom the Mediterranean, where it was f o u n d. Exper t s bel ie v e the device would have been used for eat ing by a well-off traveller.

Modern Swiss Army knives were created by Karl Elsener and provided the country's soldiers with a bat t lef ield toolkit.

They have since become standard issue for many modern-day fighting forces.


SILVER SERVICE: The ancient tool and, far left, modern Swiss knife
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 18, 2010
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