Ancient Mortars


In the Antica Farmacia Pesci, an antique pharmacy located in Piazza di Trevi (Via della Stamperia, 89) in the centre of Rome, it is possible to admire some antique tools used in ancient times to prepare medicaments: stone, porphyry and bronze mortars.

This variety of mortars is strictly connected to the need of executing different working procedures according to the different ingredients to be crushed and prepared.


1- Mortars made of marble and ceramic that were used to grind and to powder salts and mineral compounds.


2- Porphyry mortars that were the best ones used to obtain very fine and homogeneous powders.

3- Iron and bronze mortars that were suitable for use with drugs.

An example of the latter is a mortar deriving from a bell dedicated to Saint Lawrence which is engraved with the date of 1552, perhaps the year when the pharmacy was established or, in any case, an important element which at least contributed to date the foundation of it.1


Bronze mortar engraved with the date of 1552 and the papal coats of arms. ()

Mortars made of bronze were sometimes of great economic and artistic value, because they were usually designed and decorated by great master smelters.

  • Photos and main text by Asia Festa moc.liamg|aisayzal#| and Domenico Ioverno moc.liamg|j88lpc#| (November 2017)


  • Patrizia Costabile, "Antica Farmacia Pesci" in Erbe e speziali. I laboratori della salute, Aboca Museum Edizioni, Arezzo 2007, pp.267-271

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