Roman-era beauty kits were used to treat trachoma

Published on April 29th, 2013 | by Sevaan Franks

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Over the years archaeologists have found a lot of Roman-era toiletry kits that contain tweezers, scrapers and other artifacts. It was initially thought that these were used as part of a regular beauty regimen, but now some researchers believe that they were used to treat, trachoma, a type of Chlamydia that affects the eye.

Trachoma roughens the inner surface of the eyelid and causes the eyelashes to turn inward. The eyelids and eyelashes can then scrape the cornea, causing scratching and, eventually, blindness. If sufferers leave the condition untreated, they often tweeze out their eyelashes in hopes of temporary relief.

A Sightsavers image of a Kenyan woman wearing tweezers around her neck first inspired Morrison to investigate the tool kits further. Trachoma has been infecting humans since prehistory, with evidence of the disease found on the bones of Australians dating to 12000 B.C. The disease, or one very much like it, was also present in Roman-era Britain, Morrison said. Researchers investigating a 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck reported in January that they’d found medical tablets,possibly used for the treatment of eye diseases.

[Full story]

Story: Stephanie Pappas | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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