Name of Object:

Implement to remove teeth


Cairo, Egypt

Holding Museum:

Museum of Islamic Art

 About Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo

Date of Object:

Hegira 3rd century / AD 9th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Cast copper.


Length 10 cm

Period / Dynasty:





An implement similar to a pair of pliers that originally would have terminated with a saw-like edge, to facilitate a dentist in pulling, for instance, a septic tooth. The metal ring around the middle of the instrument would have moved and facilitated the doctor in manoeuvring the instrument, thus allowing him a better grip on the tooth. The early Muslims excelled in medicine and surgery, including dental medicine, and they created a number of instruments, which assisted them in carrying out different surgical operations, one of which is this.
Surgical operations included the use of general anaesthesia. For example an anaesthetic sponge was used; soaked in hashish oil, opium and belladonna; it was then dried in the sun. When the time came it was moistened and placed on the nose of the patient where the tranquilizing substances were absorbed by the patient's tissues sending him into a deep sleep, and thereby ensuring that he remained free from pain during surgery. Surgical instruments were subjected to processes of sterilisation in order that infection would not be transferred from one patient to another, especially in dentistry where the spread of infection was more likely. At this time Abu Bakr al-Razi (AH 251–313 / AD 865-925) had already arrived at the discovery of the preparation of alcohol which was used in the sterilisation of surgical instruments.

View Short Description

Not only did Muslim physicians excel in diagnosis and treatment but they also invented tools that would help surgery in general and dentistry in particular. They used different kinds of anaesthetics and sterilised their surgical tools.

How date and origin were established:

This instrument was dated based on its discovery, along with a number of other surgical instruments, in the city of Fustat. During the Abbasid period the city was well-known for its flourishing scientific movement, especially in the fields of medicine and surgery. Al-Fatih ibn Khaqan, a minister of the Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil 'ala Allah (r. 232–47 / 847–61) built a hospital in Fustat in 247 / 861. Ahmad ibn Tulun (r. 254–70 / 868–84) also built the al-'Alaa Hospital in 254 / 868 in Fustat.

How Object was obtained:

The instrument was donated to the museum by Doctor Henry Amin 'Awad in 1975. He is a well known Egyptian specialist of skin diseases and has a wide range of interests in Islamic archaeological artefacts; he has written a number of works in this field.

How provenance was established:

It is likely that this instrument was produced in Egypt as it was discovered during archaeological excavations in Fustat along with a number of similar surgical instruments.

Selected bibliography:

–––––––, Quand les sciences parlent arabe VIIIe-XVe ap. J.-C./IIe-IXe siècle H,exhibition catalogue, Cairo, 2003.
Farukh, O., Tarikh al-'ulum 'ind al-Arab [History of Arab Sciences], Beirut, 1980.
Honcke, S., Shams al-Arab tastaa' ala al-gharb [The Sun of the Arabs Shines on the West] (Trans. Baidun, Farouq Wadso, Kamal), Beirut, 1981.
Muntasir, Abd al-Halim, Tarikh al-'ilm wa dor al-'ulama al-Arab fi takadumihu [History of Science and the Role of Arab Scholars in its Advancement], Cairo, 1980.
'Awad, Henry Amin, “Al-Jiraha fi al-'asr al-Islami [Surgery in the Islamic period]”, Majalat Dirasat al-Athariya al-Islamiya [Journal of Islamic Archaeological Studies], Vol. 3, Cairo, 1988.

Citation of this web page:

Al-Sayyed Muhammad Khalifa Hammad "Implement to remove teeth" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;eg;Mus01;48;en

Prepared by: Al-Sayyed Muhammad Khalifa Hammad
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: ET 88