Skip to comments.Ancient Greek Pill-Poppers Dosed Themselves With Carrots and Yarrow
Posted on 09/10/2010 7:30:58 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Pill-popping ancients liked a good dose of vegetables, archaeobotanists have found after analyzing plant DNA in Greek-made pills from a 130 BC shipwreck.
Though archaeologists have known about the ship since the 1980s, this is the first time researchers have had a crack at analyzing the drugs found onboard. Using the GenBank genetic database as their guide, they have found that the pills appear to contain carrot, parsley, radish, alfalfa, chestnut, celery, wild onion, yarrow, oak, and cabbage.
Geneticist Robert Fleischer of the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park says that many of the ingredients match those described in ancient texts, New Scientist reports. Yarrow was meant to slow blood coming from a wound, and carrot-as described by Pedanius Dioscorides, a pharmacologist in Rome-was thought to ward off reptiles and aid in conception.
Fleischer and colleagues presented these first results yesterday at the Fourth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology in Denmark, and Nature's blog The Great Beyond reports that the pills also contained some surprises. For one, researchers found sunflower or helianthus believed to be a New World plant unknown to the Europeans until the 1400s. Now researchers must determine if the ancient Greeks really prescribed sunflower concoctions or if the some modern, ancient drug handlers contaminated the find. They also hope to find "theriaca," a medicine described in ancient texts as containing 80 different plants-a pill to put the modern health drink V8 to shame.
(Excerpt) Read more at blogs.discovermagazine.com ...
Ancient DNA reveals ingredients of Roman medicineAncient Roman pharmacies must have looked a lot like vegetable gardens. DNA analysis of 2000-year-old medicinal tablets suggests the pills included onions, carrots and other garden vegetables.
by Ewen Callaway
September 9, 2010
Medical texts written by Pliny the elder and others detail herbal remedies the Romans and Greeks used, but not a lot is known about the contents of individual tablets, says Robert Fleischer, a geneticist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. He presented early results from the analysis at the International Symposium of Biomolecular Archaeology in Copenhagen, Denmark yesterday.
His team obtained the tablets from a shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany that probably occurred between 140 and 120 BCE, based on items recovered from the ship, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s. Among them was a wooden medical chest stocked with well-preserved tablets filled with what looked like ground plants and vegetables.
To find out what the medicines were made of, Fleischer extracted DNA from two of the tablets and sequenced DNA from the chloroplasts. Among the components were vegetables such as onions, carrots, parsley and cabbage, as well as alfalfa, hawthorn, hibiscus and chestnut -- all known to have grown in the Mediterranean at the time, or available to Romans. "All this makes sense," says team member Alain Touwaide, also at the Smithsonian. Sequencing also turned up a few head scratchers, including a new world plant called helianthus, that probably represent contamination.
His team is working on ferreting out such contaminants and obtaining more tablets, so those looking for a dose of Roman medicine might want to hang onto their trowels.
Team IDs Ancient Cargo From DNA
Exduco | 10-31-2007 | David Chandler - MIT
Posted on 11/01/2007 2:27:27 PM PDT by blam
Ingredients for Salad Dressing Found in 2,400-year-old Shipwreck
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Posted on 11/10/2007 6:37:47 AM PST by Daffynition
Shipwreck Yields World’s Oldest Salad Dressing
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Posted on 06/24/2008 7:28:42 AM PDT by blam
Iâm not sure if this is the same one or not:
Greek Shipwreck from 350 BC Revealed
LiveScience.com on yahoo | 2/2/06 | Ker Than
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Deep-Sea Robot Photographs Ancient Greek Shipwreck
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Posted on 02/03/2006 2:51:12 PM PST by blam
Ship wreck provides historic data
Famagusta Gazette | Thursday, December 20, 2007
Posted on 12/20/2007 12:35:27 PM PST by SunkenCiv
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All Your Yarrow Are Belong To Us!
Seriously, that was a hell of a lot of work for that post. That wore me out looking at the effort.
“...and carrot-as described by Pedanius Dioscorides, a pharmacologist in Rome-was thought to ward off reptiles...”
We need to plant carrots around the White House, quick!!!
Gosh, I could have had some carrots and yarrow!
The Porticello Wreck: A 5th Century B.C. Merchantman in Italy
Institute of Nautical Archaeology | on web, January 2003 | Cynthia Jones Eiseman
Posted on 10/17/2004 8:31:49 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
SunkenCiv works hard for the post views!
I’m just giggling. I’m listening to O’Reilly and Beck battle over the end of the world and we have Yarrow to discuss.
I still have no clue what Yarrow is, lol.
If your attempts to conceive involve a carrot, you're doing it wrong.
[singing] peelings, nothin’ more than peelings...
He wrote that song that’s so popular at weddings.
Yarrow know more if you turn that thing off and stick with us. ;’)