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Daily life in
Roman Britain

Eye doctor's stamp

Height: 39.000 mm
Width: 39.000 mm

P&EE 1931 2-11 1

Eye-doctor's stamp

From: Kenchester, Herefordshire
Date: 1st-4th century AD

This small stone stamp is no bigger than a box of matches. It once belonged to an eye doctor, or oculist, called Titus Vindacius Ariovistus. The edges are engraved in Latin with his name and several different types of ointment: nard-oil salve, green salve, infallible salve and frankincense salve. Can you see that the letters are carved in reverse so they could be read correctly after they had been stamped into the ointment?

Many plant materials were known to have healing properties and were made into medicines. Surgery, however, was a risky business in Roman times, and it was just as likely to kill you as to cure you.