The link below offers fascinating evidence that the design skills of ancient civilizations were far more advanced than modern man generally assumes. The link, sent by a reader, shows photos of an 1,800 year-old “Swiss army knife” that was apparently used by someone in the ancient Roman Empire. It has a knife, fork, spoon, spatula, tooth pick and food spike all built into a compact, easily-portable hand-tool.
This example of practical ancient technology is in extraordinarily-good condition for one reason. It was made of silver, with the exception of the knife blade which was made of iron and is badly corroded. The article makes the case that the ancient owner of this hand-tool had to be a wealthy person to have had such a utilitarian instrument made of silver. That is, no doubt true. However, this well-preserved silver tool design is a testimony to a larger truth: that such hand-tools must have also been mass-produced in the ancient world out of common metals for the masses to use. The owner of this ancient silver hand-tool likely sent a similar tool made of base metals to the shop that manufactured them with an order that said “make me one of these but make it out of silver.”
The link notes that this exotic tool was “excavated from the Mediterranean area” (a very broad region) so it is not clear if this tool was made by someone within the Roman Empire or whether it was imported from a foreign civilization with which Rome had trading relationships. It was certainly found within the region dominated by the Roman Empire. The Romans had very ingenious and skilled engineers as can be seen from Roman roads, aqueducts, buildings, etc., so it is entirely possible this advanced hand-tool is of Roman design. However, if it was imported, where else might it have been manufactured in 200 AD? One answer is the Parthian Empire.
The Parthian Empire was composed of the descendants of the ten tribes of Israel who had originally gone into an Assyrian captivity circa 721 BC. In 200 AD, the Parthian Empire was still reigning over the approximate region from the Euphrates River to near the Indus River. The Parthian Empire fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 14:2 that the descendants of the captive Israelites would eventually take captive those nations which had been their oppressors. Those “captor” nations would have been Assyria, followed by Babylon and Persia, and, finally, the Seleucid Greek Empire. The Israelite Parthians did, indeed, rule over the people of all those previous empires. This is another example of how God always fulfills his prophecies, just as he promised he would in Isaiah 41:21-26. The Parthian Empire was also very ingenious in its engineering skills. It even developed rudimentary electric batteries! A copy of one such battery is on the cover of my book, Parthia–The Forgotten Ancient Superpower. Trade and commerce flourished between Parthia and Rome when they were at peace with each other, so this is a distinct possibility.
Another possibility is that the tool may have been produced in the Scythian regions of the Black Sea. The Scythians were also called the Sacae, a name derived from the root word for “Isaac.” The Scythians were also descended from the ten tribes of Israel and were long-time allies of their Parthian brother tribes. The Scythians were descended from the Israelite tribes who avoided the Assyrian captivity by voluntarily going into exile and migrating into the Black Sea region (the apocryphal book of II Esdras mentions this body of Israelites in II Esdras 13:40-45). By 200 AD, the Scythians were generally called “Goths” by the Romans, but these Scythians had long had a flourishing trade with the Greek city-states that were then within the Roman Empire. The Scythians were a major wheat-supplier to the city of Athens. The Scythians were also famous for their exquisite engineering skills in crafting all kinds of gold artifacts. Given their superior skills in working with gold objects, it would have been easy for them to also make objects out of silver, the other precious metal. It would not have been hard for a wealthy Roman to “special order” such a silver tool to be made by the advanced goldsmiths in Scythian regions via the longstanding commercial contacts the Greeks had with the Scythians. Even the Bible gives circumstantial evidence to support such a possibility. In Colossians 3:11, the Apostle Paul is drawing a series of contrasts and one of the contrasts is between “barbarians [and] Scythians.” This biblical reference reveals that it was commonly known in Paul’s time within the Roman Empire that the Scythians were an advanced civilization (the opposite of “barbarians”). The history and skills of the Scythian tribes are documented in my book, Israel’s Lost Empires.