Bronze Roman cupping vesel, 1-79 AD.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This bronze cupping vesel is from Pompeii, Italy. Cupping was a popular Roman practice, which aimed to draw poisonous substances and 'vicious humours' from the body. A cup containing a piece of burning cloth was presed onto the skin. The burning used up the oxygen in the air in the cup, producing a partial vacuum, which powerfully sucked the cup on to the body. Dry cupping was performed on unbroken skin; wet cupping covered a wound or deliberate incision, and drew out blood, pus and other body fluids.