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The Italian inscription painted on to this earthenware jar VNGTO.D.EGIPTIACO translates as “Egyptian ointment”. It consists of two parts honey and one part vinegar, with a good dose of verdigris – the green layer that forms on copper – added in. The mixture was then heated. Once cooled, it could be applied to treat a number of skin complaints, including ulcers. It is thought the ointment was either invented in Egypt or was popular there, giving the mixture its name.

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Glossary: ulcer

An open sore caused by erosion of the body surface. An ulcer can occur on the inside or outside of the body. The two most common types are mouth ulcers and stomach ulcers.

Glossary: earthenware

Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.

Glossary: albarello

A form of jar, typically from Medieval Spain, used for storing drugs. The word ‘albarello’ is of Spanish origin but historians appear divided over whether or not the design of the jar originated in Spain, Morocco or China. The shape of the waisted jar is distinctive.

Glossary: gas gangrene

Death and decay of wound tissue infected by a soil-based bacteria. Toxins produced by the bacterium cause decay of connective tissue and the generation of gas.