Roman-era Shipwreck Reveals Ancient Medical Practices

Medical supplies recovered from a ship that went down around 130 BCE off the coast of Tuscany. The ship was recovered in 1974 and excavated in 1989, but it wasn’t until recently that the contents of a series of sealed containers was able to be determined through DNA analysis.

136 tin-lined were revealed to contain a variety of pharmaceuticals used to treat stomach complaints have recently been identified to contain herbs and plants such as celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa and chestnuts.

Gino Fornaciari, a paleo-pathologist from Pisa University, said: “As well as understanding how the ancient Romans treated each other, we are learning more about what illnesses they suffered from.”

To learn more about the wreck, read the article in The Telegraph.

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About Jennifer Carey

My name is Jennifer Carey and I am a student and educator of the human condition. I have long studied history, trained in archaeology, and found a passion in the field of education. As a long-time lover of technology (my father bought our family our first Apple IIe when I was three), I love technology and what it can bring to the classroom. I have taught at various Universities for many years as well as educating gifted teenagers through the Johns Hopkins program, the Center for Talented Youth. I am currently the Director of Educational Technology at the Ransom Everglades School (a secular independent school) in Miami, Fl. I also have a few educational podcasts on iTunes from my days teaching at TCU: The Ancient City of Rome, Classical Archaeology (2008), Classical Archaeology (2009), Introduction to Classical Myth, and Ancient Eats. They’re enhanced (so you get the PowerPoints along with the vocal), but please excuse the poor audio editing. Feel free to Email Me or follow me on twitter.
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5 Responses to Roman-era Shipwreck Reveals Ancient Medical Practices

  1. This was a wonderful and timely article to read for me. I’m currently reading Shelters of Stone by Jean Auel, and she documents myriad ancient medical practices. I suppose it is rather arrogant of us to believe our great ancestors did not also practice medicine.

    I’m was also tickled and amazed that we are now able to perform DNA analysis from a shipwreck from 130 BCE. By the way, you score huge points for using BCE, rather than the biased BC, which I still see in textbooks.

    • Jennifer Lockett says:

      I had a teacher in college that took points off for using AD/BC rather than CE/BCE. It stuck.
      While our ancestors did practice medicine, it generally wasn’t very effective and often made ailments worse. Modern medicine and things like anesthetic and antibiotics are why I’m glad I live in a post 1920s world!

  2. Pingback: Roman-era Shipwreck Reveals Ancient Medical Practices » Greece on WEB

  3. I still believe that an evidence should never be lost because it is one the things that gives big impact in the case.

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