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.


5 thoughts on “Roman-era Shipwreck Reveals Ancient Medical Practices

  1. Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

    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.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      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

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