In ancient Greece and Rome, athletes prepared for competition by covering their bodies with oil. After competing or exercising on a dirt field or arena, the athlete would be covered with a mixture of oil, sweat, and dirt. To remove it, he would apply fresh oil and then scrape his skin with the sharp edge of the curved blade of a strigil, like this one. The cupped interior of the blade would fill with oil, sweat, dirt, and dead skin, which the athlete would remove periodically by swiping the blade between his thumb and forefinger. After vigorous scraping, the individual would wash himself with water and a sponge.
This strigil was made from one piece of metal, shaped and cupped to create a blade at one end and bent back to form a closed rectangular handle at the other. In antiquity, even utilitarian objects such as strigils were enlivened with design elements. The exterior of the blade is decorated with a series of fluted channels. And an embossed leaf shape is placed at the lower end of the blade where it joins the rectangular handle.