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Syrup jar used for Scabious Water, Italy, 1648

The Latin inscription painted on the side, Aqua Scabiosae, translates into English as “Scabious Water”. Water infused with pink, white and blue scabious flowers was stored in this earthenware jar, probably with a protective cover of vellum or paper tied with string. The water was drunk to expel phlegm from the body, especially if coughs and colds were affecting the chest. Taken with theriac – an expensive thick sticky liquid medicine made from numerous ingredients – the treatment was used against plague.

Object number:




Glossary: syrup jar

No description.

Glossary: plague

An acute contagious fever with high levels of mortality. Both the 'Black Death' that swept Europe in the 1340s and the Great Plague of London in 1665 are believed to have been bubonic plague.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: theriac

An ointment used as an antidote to snake venom or other poison.

Glossary: phlegm

Mucus produced by the respiratory system, and expelled by coughing. Healthy phlegm is normally clear and white.