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two longhandled spoons, the "handle" is a tapering metal spike
Two silver cochlearia from the Hoxne Hoard

A cochlearium (plural cochlearia) was a small Roman spoon with a long tapering handle.


Cochlearia have been found in a number of Roman sites from the 4th and 5th centuries CE, including the Thetford[1] and Hoxne Hoards.

The word cochlea has a literal meaning of spiral or snail shell, leading many to conclude that the design of the spoon was so that the handle could be used to get snails or cockles out of the shell.[2]

A cochlearium, cochlear or cochleare are used as a Roman reference for a liquid measure being a spoonful.[3] A cochlearium was also used to refer to a place where snails could be bred for eating.[2]


  1. ^ British Museum retrieved 27th June 2010
  2. ^ a b Rich, Anthony (1860), A dictionary of Roman and Greek antiquities: with nearly 2000 engravings on wood from ancient originals illustrative of the industrial arts and social life of the Greeks and Romans (2 ed.), Longmans, Green & Co., pp. 182–3 
  3. ^ Hussey, Robert (1836), An Essay on the ancient Weights and Money and the Roman and Greek liquid Measures: with an appendix on the Roman and Greek foot, Parker, p. 207