Museum Treasures

Italian wet drug jar ‘SY. DI. POMIS’, dated 1605

An Italian wet drug jar that once contained a purgative syrup prepared from apple juice, senna and borage.

Italian wet drug jar ‘SY. DI. POMIS’, dated 1605

Source: RPS Museum 

An Italian wet drug jar labelled ‘SY. DI. POMIS’ and dated 1605

This jar’s label is surmounted by a ‘YHS’ monogram and a cross — the mark of the Company of Jesuits. It is, therefore, likely to be from a monastic, possibly hospital, dispensary of a Jesuit Order.

Monasteries were early pioneers of community pharmacy, with medicinal plants being grown for use not only by the resident monks, but also the people living in the surrounding area.

The label reveals that the jar originally stored ‘SY. DI. POMIS’ (syrupus de pomis compositus regis saporis) — a purgative syrup prepared from apple juice, senna and borage. The syrup was supposedly named after Sabur ibn Sahl, the 9th century Persian physician and compiler of the Aqrabadhin — a text that remained influential in Islamic medicine for centuries.

Citation: The Salvadore DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205606

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  • Italian wet drug jar ‘SY. DI. POMIS’, dated 1605

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