9 Jan 2013

Roman medicine tablets found

2:01 pm on 9 January 2013

Chemical analysis of medicine tablets found in an ancient shipwreck off the west coast of Italy, suggests Roman healthcare was surprisingly sophisticated.

The BBC reports six grey tablets lay locked in a small tin box, kept safe from the seawater, for more than 2000 years.

The wreck of the Relitto del Pozzino was discovered in the 1970s off the west coast of Italy, but only now has the medicine been fully analysed.

An Italian team of scientists took samples from the material and discovered it was full of different ingredients.

They found pine resin, which has anti-bacterial properties, animal fats and possibly olive oil, known for its use in ancient perfumes and medicinal preparations.

The scientists said the composition of the tablets suggests they could have been used to treat eye infections.

Their research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.