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2000 Year Old Medicinal Pills Found In Ancient Greek Shipwreck

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posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 11:17 AM
Medicinal pills from two thousand years ago wasn't anything I had expected to exist so long ago, so I have to say that I'm a bit amazed. However, it remains to be seen if the extracts are now known to treat diseases effectively, according to the article.

In 130 BC, a ship fashioned from the wood of walnut trees and bulging with medicines and Syrian glassware sank off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. Archaeologists found its precious load 20 years ago and now, for the first time, archaeobotanists have been able to examine and analyse pills that were prepared by the physicians of ancient Greece.
"For the first time, we have physical evidence of what we have in writing from the ancient Greek physicians Dioscorides and Galen," says Alain Touwaide of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
Drugs described by Dioscorides and another Greek physician known as Galen of Pergamon have often been dismissed as ineffectual quackery. "Scholars and scientists have often dismissed the literature on such medicines, and expressed doubt about their possible efficacy, which they attributed only to the presence of opium," says Touwaide. He hopes to resolve this debate by exploring whether the plant extracts in the pills are now known to treat illnesses effectively.

He also hopes to discover therian – a medicine described by Galen in the second century AD that contains more than 80 different plant extracts – and document the exact measurements ancient doctors used to manufacture the pills. "Who knows, these ancient medicines could open new paths for pharmacological research," says Touwaide.

2000-year-old pills found in Greek shipwreck

After searching some of the different plants the pills contained extracts from, it seems as if many of them have properties that could combat different kinds of cancers, help with the liver functions and improve digestion as well many more.

edit on 12/9/10 by Droogie because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 12:52 PM
Symposium/conference abstract is here, forward to page 18 of the pdf

The pdf is 193 pages long, I'm pasting the entire abstract.

Session 1: 10.50 – 11.10

Composition of pharmaceuticals from a 1st century BC/AD
Roman shipwreck based on chloroplast DNA sequences

Robert Fleischer1, Alain Touwaide2, Emanuela Appetiti2, Danica Harbaugh1,2 & John

1Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, MRC 5503, Smithsonian
Conservation Biology Institute, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012
2Department of Botany, MRC-166, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institution, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012

We report here on chloroplast DNA sequences obtained from multiple extractions and
PCR amplifications from two large “pills” obtained from a box of medicines found in
a 1st Century BC/AD Roman shipwreck with the collaboration of the Soprintendenza
per i Beni Archeologici di Firenze, Italy. We conducted the extractions and PCR
setups in an isolated, ancient DNA laboratory usually used for animal DNA analysis,
and obtained multiple short sequences from each pill. Many of these sequences could
be aligned by “blast” comparisons to sequences on Genbank. Some sequences turned
out to be artifacts or of bacterial, human or other contaminant origin, but most
appropriately matched Angiosperm sequences. In total we found sequences reflecting
more than ten different types of plants. We obtained mostly replicated evidence
(multiple extractions, PCRs and different gene regions) of Hibiscus, Apium (celery), a
bean, an aster, pepper, Persea, alfalfa and other taxa, although in some cases
resolution of exact taxa could not be achieved because of short length of sequence
reads. Nearly all of the sequences we obtained could not be ruled out as items that
would potentially be found in pharmaceuticals from this period and region based on
historical documentation.

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 01:05 PM
Admittedly I did not read the comments, but I did read the OP. Let me just say, this is practically (not quite) a non-story. Where I come from at least, it's general knowledge that pills have existed almost as long as mankind. I mean, that's what you get when you leave a pot of healing tea on the stove and forget about it. Right now I am reading the Journey To The West novels from ancient China and they mention pills by name quite a few times. Also, I'm recording an audio version of them, e-mail or u2u me if you want a copy, BTW. Point being, pills are obviously ancient tech, because anything which is heated too long, even if it's not meant as medicine, becomes a powder, and because you would never give someone all the powder at once, pills must have been in use for thousands of years.
edit to add: I know we aren't supposed to advertise here, but of course I would never offer intellectual work for money and there is no website or other web presence of this "artwork". Just a reasonable aside.

edit on 12-9-2010 by IceOwl because: T and C

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 01:30 PM
Thanks this is a Great read, S & F

For generations and generations Herbal Medicines was all many people had for treatment of ailments.

To be honest, even today in Countries such as China, you can still go to a capital city of any provice and be treated in a Peoples Hospital by an Herbalist.

My, wife holds her degree in China as a Herbalist Medicine Doctor and Acupuncture Doctor and Cupping and Soothing Rock treatments. She worked at a Hospital in Harbin China for 6 years and treat me and our family members here with Herbal medicines, much she grows here in our back yard

I read what ingredients they posted in the article and yes, used today here with home grown Garlic.

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 05:32 PM
reply to post by guohua

Yeah, I've heard garlic is amazing, I should read more about the benefits of that little thing. I read in a thread here on ATS that chilis can do wonders as well, I think it was the thread about all the different ways you can combat, or cure cancer. Very interesting stuff.

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 05:57 PM
reply to post by Droogie

YUP,,, Garlic, not powdered or Garlic Salt, but fresh Garlic should be part of your diet two or three times a week.
The same with fresh Mushrooms.
Also if you're pron to bladder infections ( which our daughter is ) then the boiled corn husk from ears of corn.
Take and pull the husk and sting from washed ears of corn and boil to a yellowish tea, cool and drink.
Note: I'm not giving medical advice to anyone, but it works for us.

I was going to add, I think once they get to analyze all the of the ingredients in some of those medicine bottles, I think you'll find that one or two can not be duplicated because the source of that ingredient is no longer available.
I only mention this because my wife has had that problem in the past trying to duplicate an old herbal prescription mentioned in a medical text book of hers.

I really do believe they'd find some wonderful herbal medicines in that ship wreck, they could always use some dried out sea horses and star fish too. Just Saying

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 05:59 PM

Preliminary analyses of the ancient pills suggest they contain sunflower, a plant that is not thought to have existed in the Old World before Europeans discovered the Americas in the 1400s.

This is what makes the article that much more interesting. If it does turn out to be sunflower in the pill, it'll go to show that ancient cultures had contact with the New World!

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 06:14 PM
reply to post by mistafaz

You're Correct, Sunflower extract would have them scratching their heads

I was under the impression that Sunflower was an North American original plant too.

Sunflower seeds in the raw form are often used to treat hair loss and nail growth just by it self.

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 06:26 PM
If that were true you would think there would be millions of men eating sunflower seeds. They are good for you though.

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 07:50 PM
reply to post by guohua

Talking about herbs ! well back in the time when Christianity was in its prime (14th to 17th century )

The ones that did use herbs to Cure and to Prevent were Considered to be Sorcery & Witchcraft or the Work of the Devil to the Ones that could not Understand .. how it was used ..

Whether it be Witches Warlocks now Wicca , Witch doctors , Medicine Man , Shamans
because of Religion in most parts those Cures or Preventions of Medicine were Partially Lost & Forgotton from the Fear of Execution of being thought as a WITCH Through out Europe & Colonial America
now its been rediscovered and Now Medicine is a BIG BUSINESS Through the Media thanks to Traveling of Snake Oil & Tonic Salesman back in the 18th century Advertisement
Red or Blue Pill !!

S&F on the findings thanks

posted on Sep, 12 2010 @ 08:12 PM
reply to post by Wolfenz

Your correct and so much has been forgotten to the Western world of medicine.
But, for me, Not if but when The SHTF, it'll be Great to have an Herbalist with me.

edit on 12-9-2010 by guohua because: spelling,,, I'm really bad at it.

posted on Sep, 26 2010 @ 01:46 AM

Originally posted by guohua
reply to post by Wolfenz

Your correct and so much has been forgotten to the Western world of medicine.
But, for me, Not if but when The SHTF, it'll be Great to have an Herbalist with me.

edit on 12-9-2010 by guohua because: spelling,,, I'm really bad at it.

Speaking of which i wonder if ! These Movies have any truth to them
From Ancient Herbs as im thinking of these movies

Serpent of the Rainbow(catatonic state Hibernation like a Frozen frog )

Altered States, ( Mind Alternative cell morphing as what we were once )
How We Are Evolving

New analyses suggest that recent human evolution has followed
a different course than biologists would have expected

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