Monday, December 17, 2007

Roman surgical instruments focus of new show

One of the most complete sets of surgical instruments from the ancient world has gone on show in the Italian city of Rimini.

Archaeologists there have been excavating the house of a surgeon who operated nearly 2,000 years ago.

They found more than 150 different surgical instruments, like scalpels, scissors, weighing scales, and forceps.

The house was built in the 2nd Century AD and destroyed by fire in the barbarian invasions a century later.

Painstakingly, for 17 years archaeologists have been digging away in the centre of Rimini, a city on the Adriatic sea, laying bare the ruins of one of the world's oldest doctor's surgeries.

Greek inscriptions

One unique tool, unknown to archaeologists until now, was a device apparently designed to extract arrowheads from wounded soldiers.

They also found a pestle and mortar in which the surgeon most likely mixed compounds of herbal anaesthetics to relieve pain.

A ceramic hot water bottle in the shape of a foot is believed to have been used for treating foot pains.

The consulting rooms included a high backed chair for the doctor, who may have been a Greek, to judge from the Greek language inscriptions found.

An operating room has a bed along one wall and the name Eutyches, which may have been the doctor's name, was scratched upon the wall.

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