Medical equipment found in Roman burial

Archaeologists excavating in the Jászság region of Hungary have found a collection of medical equipment in the burial of a Roman doctor.

Excavations were conducted by the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), the Jász Museum, and the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH), following a preliminary magnetometer field survey that indicated archaeological features beneath the ground surface.

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A magnetometer is a device that records spatial variation in the Earth’s magnetic field to detect and map magnetic anomalies, artefacts, and features.

The survey led to the discovery of a cemetery from the Avar period and several metal tools deposited in a shallow grave from the 1st century AD based on a radiocarbon analysis. This places the burial during a transitional period when parts of present-day Hungary were incorporated into the Roman province of Pannonia.

A closer examination of the tools revealed that they were of Roman origin and were placed in the burial of a Roman doctor in two wooden boxes. The tools were used for medical interventions, which includes forceps, needles and tweezers, and decorated scalpels made from copper alloy equipped with replaceable blades.

Evidence of drug residues were also identified in the burial, which were found alongside a grinding stone likely used for mixing herbs to make medicines.

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A study of the skeleton has determined that he was a man aged between 50 to 60-years old, although the cause of death is unknown as the remains show no sign of trauma or illness. The team plans to conduct an isotopic analysis of the skeleton to determine whether he was of local origin.

According to the researchers: “Only one example of a similar medical kit has been discovered from the same period which was found in Pompeii”.


Header Image Credit : Magyar Múzeumok

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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