Six tablets-pills, 2,000 years old, which were found in an ancient shipwreck, were analyzed in scientific laboratories, revealing the secrets of the ancient pharmaceutics and medicine.
The pills contain animal and vegetable fats, pine resin and zinc compounds. According to the researchers the medicine might probably have been used to treat eye infections.
"I am surprised that in the medicine so many ingredients were found and they were so well preserved, considering it was under water for so much time," Maria Perla Colombini, professor of chemistry from the Universityof Pisa told bbc.
The shipwreck that the medicine was found on dates to 140-130 BC The ship was probably a trading ship sailing from Greece across the Mediterranean. The pills were found inside a metal tin, so they were saved from dissolution in water. To shipwreck known as the "Pozzino shipwreck", was discovered in 1974, off the coast of Tuscany. Just recently, however, scientists were able to explore in depth the pharmaceutical findings.
Mass spectrometryrevealed the variety of ingredients in ancient medicine. The researchers detected animal and vegetable fats, olive oil and starch materials used in Roman cosmetics. The zinc compounds found in the pills, may have been the active ingredient in the tablets.
Recent research shows that the medicinal art of antiquity was quite complex and strangely enough, scientifically advanced.