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Early Roman First-aid Kit Discovered.

What the 2,000-Yr.-Old EMT Used

THE AID BOX OF THE SHIP'S MEDIC was recently found in the shipwreck of a Mediterranean trading vessel that sank around 130 B.C.  The inspection of the medicine box suggests that the ship carried a medically-trained crew member to administer to the injured and ill sailors.

The shipwreck was first located in 1974 and has been explored by archaeologists since then.  In 1989 the wooden chest containing the medicines was found, but it was only recently that the scientists were able to successfully open it safely and inspect the contents using DNA sequencing technology.

The UK Telegraph reports:

A wooden chest discovered on board the vessel contained pills made of ground-up vegetables, herbs and plants such as celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa and chestnuts – all ingredients referred to in classical medical texts.

The tablets, which were so well sealed that they miraculously survived being under water for more than two millennia, also contain extracts of parsley, nasturtium, radish, yarrow and hibiscus.

They were found in 136 tin-lined wooden vials on a 50ft-long trading ship which was wrecked around 130 BC off the coast of Tuscany. Scientists believe they would have been used to treat gastrointestinal complaints suffered by sailors such as dysentery and diarrhoea.

"We still don't know whether it was Roman, Greek or Phoenician, nor do we know whether it was a long distance trading ship operating throughout the Mediterranean or a coastal vessel," said Dr Touwaide.

He said the discovery showed that medical knowledge contained in ancient Greek texts, and later in the writings of Roman scholars such as Pliny, was being put into practise in the Roman Empire.

The New American has a detailed report on this investigation HERE.

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