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2,000-year-old Pills

In 1989, a shipwreck from about 130 B.C. was discovered. Divers retrieved dishes and other artifacts. One surprising discovery was a chest of vials and containers with tablets in them, some still dry! Evolutionary geneticist Robert Fleischer said they were made of compressed vegetation.
"It was assumed the pills were medicines that the physicians were using. There were things associated with this chest that led them to believe it was a physician's chest," said Fleischer.

Using DNA sequencing, Fleischer has identified some of the plant components in the tablets: carrot, radish, parsley, celery, wild onion, cabbage, alfalfa, oak and hibiscus.

Researchers are looking into the ingredients to determine what they were for. Speculation is that the tablets were used to treat dysentery, which was common among ancient sailors. Link

(Image credit: Harry A. Alden)

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