Drug Jar Found at Jamestown
Original Author: Unknown
Created: Early seventeenth century
Medium: Ceramic artifact
Publisher: Preservation Virginia

Drug Jar Found at Jamestown

A ceramic drug jar unearthed during excavations of the early fort at Jamestown sheds light on the daily life of the settlers. The colonists were frequently ill, and they often consulted apothecaries, who diagnosed maladies and prescribed drugs. In addition to being scarce, doctors were generally too expensive for the average person.

Herbal remedies were widely used, both those imported from England as well as experimental curative substances found in the New World. These new remedies included tobacco, which was used as an antidote for a variety of maladies, from worms to lung congestion; sassafras, which was used to treat syphilis; and jalap and ipecac, which served as powerful purgatives.