We have ten replica medieval glass uroscopy flasks in our History Department Collection.
Uroscopy is the examination of urine to diagnose medical conditions. Its use has been recorded from as early as 4000 BC, and it became common practice in ancient Greece. It became especially popular in medieval times, until it was eventually was replaced with more accurate methods during the early modern period. In modern medicine, visual examination of a patient's urine may provide preliminary evidence for a diagnosis, but is generally limited to conditions that specifically affect the urinary system itself, such as urinary tract and kidney infections.
Pregnancy and diabetes are two diagnoses that uroscopy, although out of favour with medical professionals, has a good rate of predicting.
Listen to Carole Rawcliffe, emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia, talk about uroscopy here:
Listen to Dr James Hannam, historian of the relationship between science and religion, talk about medicine in the Medieval Era here: