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Ancient medicine found in Roman shipwreck

This is an exciting discovery: underwater archaeologists examining a shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany have found a tin containing medicine which dates back over 2,000 years.

A multi-disciplinary team analyzed fragments of the green-gray tablets to decipher their chemical, mineralogical and botanical composition. The results offer a peek into the complexity and sophistication of ancient therapeutics.

“The research highlights the continuity from then until now in the use of some substances for the treatment of human diseases,” said archeologist and lead researcher Gianna Giachi, a chemist at the Archeological Heritage of Tuscany, in Florence, Italy. “The research also shows the care that was taken in choosing complex mixtures of products — olive oil, pine resin, starch — in order to get the desired therapeutic effect and to help in the preparation and application of medicine.”

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Story: Barbara Bronson Gray | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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