Mike Aquilina

Prescriptions of the Desert Fathers

Monday May 18th 2009, 3:08 am

The Toledo Blade reports on Modern Chemistry and Ancient Medicine:

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have begun using modern chemistry to identify key ingredients in ancient Egyptian medicines. Chemical testing techniques have allowed scientists to identify certain herbs and other ingredients that were added to wine. The mixture had medicinal qualities that were so highly valued that people traveled from abroad to seek them. Some ingredients were recorded as hieroglyphs, and these inscriptions are being used as well to help with the identification of the medicinal ingredients.
Recently two clay jars, one approximately 1,500 years old and the other as old as 5,000 years, have provided residue that can be identified as herbs such as coriander and rosemary. Some researchers, including scientists from Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, are testing these ancient remedies to see if the herbalists of antiquity were on to anything with their concoctions. By taking these ancient compounds and applying them to modern medical studies such as cancer research, scientists are effectively using archaeology to gain greater knowledge of modern science.