Phineas Gage's Tamping Iron
The museum's replica of the tamping iron rod.


Phineas P. Gage


3-ft. 7-in. inscribed tamping iron rod.


Causes distinct changes in decision making, attention span, and other aspects of holder's general personality, making them vulgar and unlikable.


Effects. Also causes distinct, sometimes fatal damage to holder's frontal lobe as if pierced through the skull.



Collected by

Garrett Scott









Phineas P. Gage (1823–1860) was an American railroad construction foreman now remembered for his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior, effects so profound—for a time, at least —that friends saw him as "no longer Gage".

Long called "the American Crowbar Case"—once termed "the case which more than all others is calculated to excite our wonder, impair the value of prognosis, and even to subvert our physiological doctrines" —Phineas Gage influenced 19th-century discussion about the mind and brain, particularly debate on cerebral local­ization, and was perhaps the first case suggesting that damage to specific parts of the brain might affect personality.

Gage is a fixture in the curricula of neurology, psychology and related disciplines, and is frequently mentioned in books and academic papers; he even has a minor place in popular culture. Despite this celebrity the body of established fact about Gage and what he was like (whether before or after his accident) is remarkably small, which has allowed "the fitting of almost any theory to the small number of facts we have" Gage having been cited, over the years, by proponents of various theories of the brain wholly contradictory to one another.

A survey of published accounts of Gage, including scientific ones, has found that they are almost always severely distorted—exaggerating the known facts when not directly contradicting them.

A daguerreotype portrait of Gage—"handsome ... well dressed and confident, even proud," and holding the tamping iron which injured him—was identified in 2009. One researcher points to it as consistent with a social recovery hypothesis, under which Gage's most serious mental changes may have existed for only a limited time after the accident, so that in later life he was far more functional, and socially far better adapted, than previously thought. A second portrait came to light in 2010.


On one of Garrett's few solo missions, he was sent to a Roman war play in Pheonix, Arizona, when one actor was acting out of character: not listening, lashing out at friends, and smoking, even after resolving 2 years ago not to smoke any more.

Garrett bagged the artifact after almost being impaled by the iron by the victim. Since Artie thought Garrett was a little too young to have a tesla gun yet, he had to knock the guy on the side of the head with a "prop" rock, knocking him out long enough to get the tamping iron.

Afterwards, Garrett was given a mini-tesla gun, a normal tesla gun that isn't actually smaller, but was modified to not be able to go past level 1 without hacking, from Artie after Claudia modified it.

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