The ancient Romans and Greeks treated eyes zinc

Medical drugs found on a shipwreck that occurred two thousand years ago, suggests that the Mediterranean civilization of classical antiquity knew very complex products.

Merchant ship sank about 130 BC. e. off the coast of the Italian region of Tuscany. He was noticed in 1974 and dubbed "Relitto del Potstsino" — in honor of the beach, near which it was found. Archaeological excavations carried out in 1989 and 1990. Gave glass bowls and amphorae carrying wine, and light, and even pewter and bronze vessels, most likely made in the eastern Mediterranean.


Piksida and tablets (photo G. Giachi et al.).

In addition, the artifacts were allegedly kept in the rotted wooden chest: wooden bowl, cup, used probably for bloodletting, and parts of the ancient physician. Among other things there was a small tin cylinder — piksida in which lay five tablets of about 4 cm in diameter. The vessel was closed so tightly that its contents are preserved to this day.

Analysis of one of the tablets, conducted by Italian scientists has shown that the major components of the ancient drugs were zinc oxide (gidrotsinkit) and zinc spar (smithsonite). In addition, it is composed of a variety of materials of animal and vegetable origin, especially pollen, beeswax and pine resin.

Scientists point out that in the writings of the Roman Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides Pedany Greek, recognized authorities of his time, called a zinc compound useful for the eyes and skin. By the way, the Latin «collyrium», meaning "collyrium" comes from the Greek words that mean small round bread.

Initially it was thought that it was a kind of vitamins that sailors used during long journeys.

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prepared according to ScienceNOW.

Category: Mystery stories

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