Pharmacy Red Travertine Mortar with wooden Pestle
The name “mortar” originates from Latino vulgar “mortarjius”, derived in its turn from the most ancient mortare (making the parts). The need to crush and pulverize some materials for percussion dates back to the remote era and was initially practiced above all by using natural cavities and, perhaps, even before the milling with the millstone, with the almost always stone mortars. The oldest mortars are in hard stone (used, for example, by Etruscans and Greeks), marble or alabaster. Even the Bible bears witness to its ancient use: “The manna was crushed in the mortar to make cakes”.
Since the time of the first civilizations, the mortar has been widely used to cook herbs, roots and drugs. During the excavations of Troy, archaeologists found a basalt mortar with granite and limestone pestles. Egyptians, Greeks and Etruscans used alabaster and jasper mortars to grind wheat. Another use of the mortar since ancient times was in alchemy, herbalism, pharmacy. The most used by the speziali was the bronze mortar, which was forged in the shops of many European locations (in Italy especially Veneto and Tuscany), using the same mold of the bells.