Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Ancient Medicine Recovered from Roman Shipwreck

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

ITALY—Round tin boxes recovered from a 2,000-year-old Roman shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany hold a mix of zinc and beeswax that may have been used as eye medicine. The wreckage was found along a trade route and had been carrying wine jars, an inkwell, tin and bronze jugs, Syrian-Palestinian glass bowls, and Ephesian lamps, in addition to medical equipment and the rare medicine sample. Impressions in the medicine tablets suggest that they had been wrapped in linen to keep them from crumbling.