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Museum Treasures 

Bronze mortar, 16th century

The decoration on this bronze mortar symbolises the diversity of medicines development.

Museum Treasures October 2020

Source: RPS Museum

The oldest calligraphic form of Arabic writing, Kufic script, can be found on the bronze mortar

This mortar represents a history of medical knowledge that passed through the Middle East, North Africa and Spain from the 10th century onward. Much of the medical knowledge in Renaissance Britain had previously come from the works of Muslim scholars such as Avicenna, whose Canon of Medicine arrived in Britain via North Africa and Spain.

This bronze mortar dates to the 16th century and is possibly from North Africa or the Middle East. It is decorated with birds and scrolls, as well as Kufic script — the oldest calligraphic form of Arabic writing. It indicates the diversity of the history of the development of medicines.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208428

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