World’s oldest pills treated sore eyes
2013-01-09 0:00

By Andy Coghlan | NewScientist.com

In ancient Rome, physicians treated sore eyes with the same active ingredients as today. So suggests an analysis of pills found on the Relitto del Pozzino, a cargo ship wrecked off the Italian coast in around 140 BC.

"To our knowledge, these are the oldest medical tablets ever analysed," says Erika Ribechini of the University of Pisa in Italy, head of a team analysing the relics. She thinks the disc-shaped tablets, 4 centimetres across and a centimetre thick, were likely dipped in water and dabbed directly on the eyes.

The tablets were mainly made of the zinc carbonates hydrozincite and smithsonite, echoing the widespread use of zinc-based minerals in today’s eye and skin medications. Ribechini says there is evidence that Pliny the Elder, the Roman physician, prescribed zinc compounds for these uses almost 250 years after the shipwreck in his seminal medical encyclopaedia, Naturalis Historia.

The tablets were also rich in plant and animal oils. Pollen grains from an olive tree suggest that olive oil was a key ingredient, just like it is today in many medical and beauty creams, says Ribechini.

The tablets were discovered in a sealed tin cylinder called a pyxis (see image above). The tin must have been airtight to protect its contents from oxygen corrosion.

"Findings of such ancient medicines are extremely rare, so preservation of the Pozzino tablets is a very lucky case," says Ribechini.

The cargo of the wreck, discovered in 1989, is rich in other medical equipment, including vials and special vessels for bloodletting. This suggests that one of the passengers may have been a physician.


Article from: newscientist.com





Related Articles
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine
Neanderthals Found Certain Plants Important, Had Medicine
From The Boiling Tank to the Sauna: How Antlers Become Medicine
Powdered Mummy, Gladiator Blood, and other Historical Medicines Made from Human Corpses
The Gruesome History of Eating Corpses as Medicine


Latest News from our Front Page

Star Wars: DARPA's Death Ray Begins Testing
2015-05-27 20:29
The folly of science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. Watch a video of this report here: The U.S. government has given permission to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA for short, to begin field testing its High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS). Program manager Rich Bagnell said the solid-state laser has ‘unprecedented power and beam quality for its size‘. ...
Europe 2020
2015-05-27 4:13
YouTube Description: Europe is changing and not for the better. We can change this if we act now. Source: The European Guardian
Rome's Arch of Titus Now Represents a Jewish Triumph
2015-05-27 2:48
Though not on a par with the universally recognizable Colosseum, the Arch of Titus remains one of the most iconic relics from Rome's ancient imperial glory days. The grand arch is located just south-east of the Roman Forum (main center of ancient Rome). It was opened in 82 AD by the Roman Emperor Domitian, shortly after the death of ...
IQ, Psy Ops and the "Civilization" of the Scam
2015-05-27 2:27
Cognitive dissonance is the firewall that exists in most minds when confronted with a challenge to their basic beliefs about the world. As it is human nature to avoid admitting being in error or having been duped, for most humans the ego zealously flees the admission to oneself of significant error.Challenges to our worldviews or paradigms of belief are also ...
"Europe Could be Overrun with White South Africans"
2015-05-26 23:05
Edited by Red Ice Dear Madam Merkel: We want our brothers and sisters to come home! Hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan Africans are pouring into Europe, stressing the economy and social services, causing insane rates of crime and threatening to crush society in its entirety. Arab Moslems also continue to pour in under the guise of "asylum” and are continuing to threaten ...
More News »