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Bronze bell shaped mortar, Europe, 1671-1730

A mortar was used with a pestle to crush and grind ingredients to create drug preparations – often in the form of powders, ointments or solutions. This mortar is typical of the period as it is made from bell metal – a form of bronze – and its shape suggests it may well have been cast in a bell foundry. It is decorated with a moulding of four centaurs, mythical creatures with the legs of a horse and the body of a man. It is pictured here with a brass pestle (A659465).

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Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: mortar

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