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Physician's Cupping Glass or Alembic

Object Name:
Alembic
Date:
9th–11th century
Geography:
Iran, Nishapur; Iran, Nishapur
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Glass, greenish; blown, applied spout
Dimensions:
H. 1 15/16 in. (5 cm) L. 3 7/8 in. (9.9 cm)
Classification:
Glass
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
40.170.132
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
The suggested identifications for this object, of which numerous examples have been found at Nishapur and other excavation sites, include cupping glass, alembic, baby feeder, and breast reliever. The most recent proposal splits the objects into two types: those with straight spouts and those with curved spouts. The straight-spouted vessels may have served as alembics, which are used in distilling liquids; those with curved spouts may have served as cupping glasses, which were placed on the skin in medieval medical treatments. Only one thing is clear: after the twelfth century, the production of both types ceased.
1939, excavated at Tepe Madrasa in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1940, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

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