World’s oldest pills treated sore eyes
2013 01 09

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

Archaeologists discover 8,000-year-old HUMAN BRAIN? Norway skull ’harbours fragments of grey matter’
2014 07 21
Archaeologists in Norway have unearthed what they believe to be a skull 8,000 years old that could contain the oldest remnants of a human brain. The discovery was made at a dig site in Stokke, southwest of Oslo. Initial findings suggest the skull belonged to a child no older than ten years old, while an adult was also buried in a fetal-like ...
New York State Wants To Heavily Regulate Bitcoin Trading
2014 07 21
The proposal would establish a mandatory “BitLicense” for any company involved with the buying, selling, mining or trading of cryptocurrencies. In a move that has upset many in the bitcoin community, New York has become the first state to issue guidelines for the regulation of the trade and storage of bitcoins and other virtual currencies. With New York City being ...
Government agents ’directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots
2014 07 21
Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says. Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist. The ...
Russian Institute for Strategic Studies: NATO Is Attempting to “Revolutionize The Current World Order”
2014 07 21
West seeks “total reconstruction of the world” The tense situation between Ukraine and the United States is outlined in a paper released earlier this month by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS). A week prior to the downing of Malaysian flight 17, the institute warned that the west “refuses to adhere to the principles and norms of international law and ...
MH17: Are Pristine and Expired Passports a Smoking Gun for a False Flag?
2014 07 21
As the dust settles on this latest air tragedy, a number of very visible anomalies exist, all of which have been willingly glossed over by western media analyists and government officials. Putting the current media storm into context, it’s essential to establish the political motives of those parties rushing to assign blame. Western government and major western media outlets, namely ...
More News »