Medicinal pills found on ancient Roman shipwreck

Boat off Tuscany yields more secrets

Medicinal pills found on ancient Roman shipwreck

Rome, January 8 - Pill-shaped disks found in an ancient Roman shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany were used to create medicinal eye-drops, researchers at the University of Pisa say. An analysis of ancient, gray disks, about four centimeters in diameter and one centimeter thick, revealed a zinc-based composition that also included iron oxide, starch, beeswax, pine resin, a mix of animal and vegetable fats, flax fiber, coal, starch, grains and pollens. The research, led by Erika Ribechini at the University of Pisa, will be published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The tablets were found on the Pozzini Shipwreck, which dates back to about 140-130 B.C. Since its discovery in 1974, the Pozzini Shipwreck has become an important font of archeological knowledge. Only the central part of the boat was conserved, which leaned from east to west. The boat carried Pergamon vases, amphorae from Rhodes for transporting wine, Ephesus lamps, and "oinoche" pitchers for pouring wine, which suggests that the boat - or at least part of its cargo - came from the Greek coasts.

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