Persian drug jar, 9th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A ceramic jar used by apothecaries to store dried herbs, minerals and other medicines. The glazed surface of pottery drug jars such as this one could be easily cleaned. Some jars stored blood which had been let from patients, a common treatment of the time, especially for stomach upsets. The designs on this jar derive from the influence of Islamic art on Iran (Persia) from the 7th century onwards, where stylised and abstract patterns are the main form of decoration.