This is a VERY RARE type of ancient copper surgical saw called a TUMI from the ancient Pre-Columbian Moche Indians of South America. Used in ancient neurosurgery, the famous Moche tumi knives are usually just that - sheet metal half-moon shaped knives at the end of long, flat rectangular handles. In 35 years of working with these ancient objects, this is the first time we have encountered a true functional cast metal SURGICAL SAW! Made of heavy cast copper, the blunt T-shaped tang would have been affixed to a bone or wooden handle. The entire semi-circular blade edge is notched for serrations in order to actually saw the skull open during trepanation. One side shows original fossilized binding cord and preserved mineralized imprints of ancient cloth as this tool was likely wrapped in linen and interred as a final offering to the gods. The ancient patina is a deep, rich layer of dark emerald green and black encrustations, accented with a mottling of copper oxide. There is no damage on this perfectly preserved example! Of the few ancient surgical objects we have ever offered, this one is the FINEST in over 22 years!
Knives like these were used in ancient surgery such as skull trepanation, where an opening was cut in the skull of a living person as a form of medical treatment. Tumi of this type were also used in ritual sacrifices. Many ancient human skulls have been noted in science from this region whereby surgical cuts were made with tumi knives and in many instances, the patient lived and the wound healed. It is unknown why such practices were performed. These ancient surgical knives are unique to this region of the ancient world.
This genuine artifact would also make a most memorable gift for any physician or someone in the medical field who appreciates ancient history.