Monday, December 10, 2007

Roman ruins cast new light on a trip to doctor
An ancient doctor's surgery unearthed by Italian archaeologists has cast new light on what a trip to the doctor would have been like in Roman times. Far from crude, the medical implements discovered show that doctors, their surgeries and the ailments they treated have changed surprisingly little in 1,800 years.

A fresco from Pompeii depicts a physician on a house call
A physician on a house call kneels to tend the hero Aeneas in this fresco from Pompeii

Sore joints were common, patients were often told to change their diets, and the good doctor of the seaside town of Rimini even performed house calls.

Archaeologists have spent the past 17 years at the Domus del Chirurgo - House of the Surgeon - painstakingly excavating the site and compiling the world's most detailed portrait of medical treatment in Roman times. Their discoveries go on public display for the first time on Tuesday.

"This is the largest find of surgical instruments anywhere," said Dr Ralph Jackson, the curator of the Romano-British collection at the British Museum and an expert in ancient medicine.

Neat story.

UPDATE: More Roman stuff here.