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Roman Shipwreck Contained Oldest Known Eye Medicine



PISA - Take a guess how many types of medication you have in your medicine chest. Fifty? A few hundred?

Medication is a banality in our day – but things looked very different 2000 years ago when there were no pharmaceutical giants and mass production facilities. Hippocrates had to pick his own herbs and mix his own salves and tinctures. Needless to say that only a few privileged patients were at the receiving end of such work-intensive services.

So even for just those reasons the discovery of some researchers from Pisa and Florence is a sensation, reports Die Welt.

From the depths of the sea off the coast of Tuscany, Italy, out of the wreck of a sunken ship, they have brought up a tin pillbox containing ancient medication – six pills, over 2000 years old. That’s how old the wreck of the trading ship "Relitto del Pozzino" is.

The ancient pillbox will doubtlessly turn out to be one of the most valuable items found in the shipwreck. By analyzing the contents of the tablets, the team working with Erika Ribechini of the University of Pisa is hoping to find new information about ancient healing arts and potential new approaches for modern healing methods.

In Proceedings, the journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Ribechini reveals what is in the pills. The main component is still used today: zinc, which has disinfecting properties and is used in the treatment of wounds. She believes the tablets were not meant to be swallowed but rubbed on the eyelids to combat eye disease. “The composition and the form of the tablets seem to indicate that they were used for ophthalmic purposes: the Latin name collyrium (eyewash) comes from the Greek name κoλλυ´ρα, which means “small round loaves,” writes Ribechini.

Who knows – maybe one day this ancient medication will make its way in a modern version into our medicine chests. Assuming there’s still room.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

"Every Day Counts" — How The U.S. Shutdown Melodrama Looks In Ukraine

Congress and President Biden averted a shutdown, but thanks to a temporary deal that doesn't include new aid for Ukraine's war effort. An analysis from Kyiv about what it means, in both the short and long-term.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat of New York) in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky) and US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat of New York) in the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol.

Annabelle Gordon/Cnp/dpa/ZUMA
Oleksandr Demchenko


KYIV — The good news for President Joe Biden, a steadfast supporter of Ukraine, is that the United States managed to avoid a federal shutdown this weekend after both House and Senate agreed on a short-term funding deal.

With a bipartisan agreement that cut out the extreme wing of the Republican party, the U.S. Congress managed to agree on a budget for the next 45 days, until November 17.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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The bad news, however, is that the budget excludes any new aid for Ukraine. On top of that, there remains a looming possibility that by year-end, the U.S. may face a full-blown government shutdown that could dry up any further funding support for Kyiv as Americans focus on domestic priorities.

The problem, though, runs deeper than mere spending issues. The root cause lies in significant shifts within the U.S. political landscape over the past two decades that has allowed radical factions within both parties to emerge, taking extreme left and far-right positions.

This political turmoil has direct implications for Ukraine's security. Notably, it was the radical wing of the Republican Party that successfully removed a provision for over $6 billion in security assistance for Ukraine from the temporary budget estimate.

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