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Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:26 AM

Ingredients of a 2,000-y-old medicine revealed


Ancient shipwreck reveals 2,000-year-old eye medicine

A round tin box holding what may be 2,000-year-old tablets from the Roman shipwreck Relitto del Pozzino.

Ancient gray disks loaded with zinc and beeswax found aboard a shipwreck more than 2,000 years old may have been used as medicine for the eyes, researchers say.

These new findings shed light on the development of medicine over the centuries, scientists added.

Scientists analyzed six flat gray tablets approximately 1.6 inches in diameter and 0.4 inches thick that were found in a round tin box aboard the so-called Relitto del Pozzino shipwreck, which was discovered about 60 feet underwater in 1974 on the seabed of the Baratti Gulf off the coast of Tuscany. The hull, only 50 to 60 feet long and about 10 feet wide, dated back to about 140 B.C.

The Roman shipwreck lay near the remains of the Etruscan city of Populonia, which at the time the ship foundered was a key port along sea trade routes between the west and east across the Mediterranean Sea. A number of artifacts were unearthed during the excavation, including wine jars, an inkwell, tin and bronze jugs, stacks of Syrian-Palestinian glass bowls and Ephesian lamps. [Shipwrecks Gallery: Secrets of the Deep]

"Such objects suggest that the ship, or at least a great part of its cargo, came from the east, probably the Greek coasts or islands," the researchers wrote in a study detailed online Jan. 7 in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The cargo also included medical equipment, such as an iron probe and a bronze vessel that may have been used for bloodletting or for applying hot air to soothe aches. These findings suggest a physician was traveling by sea with his professional equipment, the researchers said.

To learn more about these potentially medicinal tablets, researchers investigated the chemical, mineralogical and botanical composition of fragments of a broken tablet.

Ingredients of a 2,000-y-old medicine revealed by chemical, mineralogical, and botanical investigations
Gianna Giachia, Pasquino Pallecchia, Antonella Romualdia, Erika Ribechinib,1, Jeannette Jacqueline Lucejkob, Maria Perla Colombinib, and Marta Mariotti Lippic

In archaeology, the discovery of ancient medicines is very rare, as is knowledge of their chemical composition. In this paper we present results combining chemical, mineralogical, and botanical investigations on the well-preserved contents of a tin pyxis discovered onboard the Pozzino shipwreck (second century B.C.). The contents consist of six flat, gray, discoid tablets that represent direct evidence of an ancient medicinal preparation. The data revealed extraordinary information on the composition of the tablets and on their possible therapeutic use. Hydrozincite and smithsonite were by far the most abundant ingredients of the Pozzino tablets, along with starch, animal and plant lipids, and pine resin. The composition and the form of the Pozzino tablets seem to indicate that they were used for ophthalmic purposes: the Latin name collyrium (eyewash) comes from the Greek name κoλλυ´ρα, which means “small round loaves.” This study provided valuable information on ancient medical and pharmaceutical practices and on the development of pharmacology and medicine over the centuries. In addition, given the current focus on natural compounds, our data could lead to new investigations and research for therapeutic care.

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Reply Ingredients of a 2,000-y-old medicine revealed (Original post)
littlemissmartypants Jan 2013 OP
longship Jan 2013 #1
Exen Trik Jan 2013 #2
diane in sf Jan 2013 #3
tama Jan 2013 #5
tama Jan 2013 #4

Response to littlemissmartypants (Original post)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 12:58 AM

1. Sorry! This does not mean homeopathy works.

Nor Echinacea. Nor Kinoki toxin pads on your feet.

Just sayin'.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 04:58 AM

2. Honey is some legitimately good medicinal stuff

I'm not all that sure about sticking it in your eyes though, and even less about the zinc.

Anyone got an informed opinion on this?

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Response to Exen Trik (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 05:19 AM

3. Eyes use a lot of zinc, maybe they were hoping some would absorb.

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Response to longship (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 07:53 AM

4. Echinacea


Existing controlled clinical trials indicate that preparations containing extracts of Echinacea can be efficacious immunomodulators.


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