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Glass Containers - An 18th-century healer like Outlander’s Claire Fraser needed a sound knowledge of medicinal plants and chemistry, and an assortment of containers to house the raw materials, mixed liquids, ointments, and poultices that she used to treat patients. Some 18th-century glass containers were made specifically for pharmaceuticals, but since many remedies were made from herbs and plants grown at home, it is likely that whatever containers were on hand were pressed into service. Bottles made to hold wine and snuff, for example, could be cleaned and repurposed by a practical healer. Glass containers such as those featured here could well have had multiple uses within a household before they were eventually discarded. Image of an ad from 1747:An ad from the July 6, 1747 New-York Gazette illustrates the kinds of imported apothecary goods available to consumers in the colonies, including empty vials.; Photo images of glass apothecary vials: Apothecary Vials, Date: ca. 1750-1850, Site Name: Schifferstadt, Site Number: 18FR134/537 -  Apothecary vials, also known as “phials,” could be used to store many kinds of pharmaceutical goods, like crushed herbs, powders, and liquid concoctions. They probably made their way on to most of Maryland’s archaeological sites as packaging for medicines obtained from a healer or apothecary, but by the mid-18th century empty vials and small corks for vials were also available for sale to those who made their own remedies. These containers were practical for travel, since they would fit well in saddle bags or medical cases. Some were even small enough to fit into pockets or purses, allowing ailing patients to keep a dose of their medicine on hand in case of immediate need. Photo image of  a cork:Corks, Date: ca. 1720-1750, Site Name: Oxon Hill Manor, Site Number: 18PR175/2351 -  Corks were essential closures for glass containers of the 18th century. They typically do not survive on archaeological sites, but the corks in this exhibit  come from an abandoned well which had special conditions for preservation. The well was filled with trash between ca. 1720 and 1750, and everything that fell below the water table survived because no oxygen is present in stagnant water and the bacteria that break down organics cannot live there.  Photo images of wine bottles:Wine Bottle, Date: ca. 1700-1720, Site Name: Saunders Point, Site Number: 18AN39; Wine Bottle, Date: ca. 1720-1750, Site Name: Oxon Hill Manor, Site Number: 18PR175/MV522 - Dark green wine bottles make frequent appearances in the Outlander television series. The shape and color of these thick-walled bottles reflected their intended function — to preserve, age, and transport wine. They might seem out of place in a medical context, but there was no general anesthesia in 1740s, so patients about to undergo a painful procedure could dull the agony by partaking of strong wine or brandy. Additionally, these bottles were durable items that could be reused to store home-brewed beverages like beer or cider, preserve small food items like cherries, or house the medicinal potions mixed up by a healer.  Photo image of a case bottle:Case Bottle, Date: ca. 1700-1799, Site Name: Victualling Warehouse, Site Number:18AP14/626 - Case bottles are so called because their square shape was designed to allow for efficient transport in wooden cases. Case bottles with narrow necks were typically used to store liquids, while those with mouths almost as wide as the bottle body were used for items like powders, preserves, and pharmaceuticals. The bottle pictured here is in a style that falls in between, with a mid-size opening that was popular for snuff tobacco and spices. The relatively small bottle would be a practical choice for carrying medicinal plant leaves in a healer’s traveling case. Photo image of a utilitarian bottle:Utilitarian “Chestnut” Bottle, Date: ca. 1780-1820, Site Name: Schifferstadt, Site Number:18FR134/537 - This olive-amber colored bottle is known as a “chestnut” bottle in collecting circles because of its shape. It is a generic utilitarian bottle for storing or transporting any liquids like water, cider, ale, liqueur, or pharmaceutical concoctions. Because it is different in appearance than  typical dark green wine bottles, this is the kind of container an 18th-century healer like Claire Fraser might have used to keep liquid medicine or distilled alcohol separate from alcohol that was meant for drinking. Sidebar shows and Artifact Q & A: Q: Why does excavated glass sometimes have that iridescent color? A:Glass decays in layers, and as the layers separate, the light that hits the surface of the glass is thrown in different directions, like a prism, creating an iridescent patina. Glass decay varies with the chemical make-up of each batch of glass and the soil conditions it is buried in. For example, the wine bottle from Saunders Point (above left) is well preserved, but the wine bottle from Oxon Hill Manor (above right) has more decay, and therefore a  lot of iridescent patination.