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Bronze mortar, Iran, 1301-1400

A mortar is a bowl used with a pestle to crush and grind ingredients for drug preparations. Drugs were often in the form of powders, ointments or solutions. This octagonal mortar is made from bronze and has a loop handle. It is quite heavy, weighing just over 4 kg, so it would not have been knocked over easily. See how it is unbalanced at the base? The foot of the mortar has worn because of use and there is also a crack in one side where over time the pounding of the pestle has damaged the bronze. This mortar was made in Persia (modern day Iran).

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Glossary: mortar

Cup-shaped vessel in which drugs or herbal mixtures are pounded with a pestle.