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University of Nebraska Medical Center

From the archives: ancient Persian baby feeders

By John Schleicher

The Alberts Collection contains over 150 rare and historic infant feeding devices, baby bottles, and other associated items.  The infant feeders date from an ancient Persian clay feeding pot circa 100-200 B.C., to mid-to-late twentieth century glass and plastic baby bottles.  The collection includes various types of feeders, such as nursing flasks, pap boats and bubby pots.

Iranian feeding pot, 100-200 BC

The collection was assembled by M. E. Alberts, M.D. (born 1923), during his career as a pediatrician in Des Moines, Iowa.  Dr. Alberts is originally from Hastings, Nebraska, and is a 1948 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.  Many of the artifacts in the library’s special collections were gifts from UNMC alumni.

The two oldest items in the collection are both ancient Persian feeding pots made of clay.  The older of the two is from the northern part of Iran, at a place called Mazandaran, by the Caspian Sea.  It is approximately 2000 years old, from circa 100-200 B.C.

Iranian Feeding Pot, Circa 250 A.D.

The other Persian feeding pot was excavated in the city of Ghazvin, Iran.  It is approximately 1700 years old, from circa 250 A.D.  According to the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, it is “like the Parthian-Sassanid pottery.”  These dates and other information about the two pots are from Dr. Alberts’ handwritten notes concerning his collection.

To see more artifacts from the Alberts collection, as well as archival materials and historic photos of the UNMC campus, visit the special collections page at DigitalCommons@UNMC.


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