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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Patent Medicine Bottles and Specimen Jars Found in Arkansas

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSAS—The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that more than 400 glass bottles were uncovered in what may have been a root cellar located behind a building that housed the Baker Hospital and Health Resort over a period of 20 months between 1938 and 1940. The so-called hospital was owned by Norman Baker, an entrepreneur, former vaudeville performer, broadcaster, and failed politician who claimed to have found a cure for cancer. Archaeologist Mike Evans of the Arkansas Archeological Survey said printed advertisements for the hospital featured pictures of tumor specimens kept in alcohol in bottles resembling those found in the bottle dump. Some of the bottles still contain alcohol and what appears to be tissue. Evans said the samples will be analyzed by scientists at the state crime laboratory and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The team also recovered bottles that may have held Baker’s cancer-cure elixir, which contained a mixture of brown corn silk, red clover, ground watermelon seeds, peppermint, glycerin, and carbolic acid. The hospital was closed in 1940 after Baker was convicted of mail fraud. For more on archaeology in Arkansas, go to “Off the Grid: Rock House Cave.”

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