Greco-Roman medicinal minerals


  • Dr Effie Photos-Jones

Project summary

The pigment medicines discussed by Pliny and other authors of the Greco-Roman world have been under-researched compared to their botanical counterparts. This project will investigate two medicine boxes containing minerals from burials in northern Greece during the Hellenistic–Roman periods. It will also synthesise and test ‘ancient medicinals’ using samples from the volcanic landscapes of the Aegean and Tyrrhenian Seas, and following prescriptions found in Scribonius Largus in 1st century AD. 

By combining mineralogy and microbiology, the research will ascertain the potential presence of microorganisms associated with the geological samples, and establish whether it is such microorganisms that give the archaeological materials in prescriptions their medicinal properties.