The shelves in a room at the National Archives, in Rabat, Malta, are lined with old bottles of different shapes and sizes, many filled with coloured powder.

Most of the labels are faded, the names of the medicines inside rendered faint by the years. Among them is a bottle of Phenazone, which was used as a painkiller before aspirin was invented. There is also picric acid, a poisonous chemical.

The recently-restored room once housed the oldest pharmacy in Malta, dating back to the late 16th century, the era of the knights, when it was part of the Santo Spirito Hospital. However, for the past two decades it was used as a store.

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