Archaeologists have unearthed a treasure trove of old medical supplies in a Renaissance-era trash dump found in the Forum of Caesar in Rome. The supplies include a variety of containers, including several ancient “urine flasks” used to collect patients’ pee for testing.
The 16th-century dump was originally excavated in 2021. The dump is believed to be a remnant of the Ospedale dei Fornari, also known as Bakers’ Hospital (also built in the space where Ceasar’s forum was). A paper on the discovery was recently published in the journal Antiquity.
The discovery was made when archaeologists with the Caesar’s Forum Excavation Project uncovered a large cistern full of ceramic vessels, like the ancient urine flasks featured in the image at the top of this article. The vessels were used for collecting medical waste, and possibly even testing bodily fluids.
Many items in the cistern were believed to be standard items given out when a new patient was admitted at Bakers’ Hospital. The items included a water jug and bowls, plates, and cups, which the patients kept for hygiene reasons.
The archaeologists believe that more than half of the recovered items are the remains of items Latin medical texts refer to as matula, or ancient urine flasks. These items were used to collect the patient’s pee, allowing doctors to observe its color, smell, or even taste to test for different impurities.
” During the study, project members describe how their urine was poured in a flask for a doctor’s observation of its color, sedimentation and smell. The practice of uroscopy was vital to the doctor’s process during this period.
The discovery of these objects, including the ancient urine flasks, in the medical dump is the second piece of evidence that points towards doctors in the Renaissance period at least having some idea of how important hygiene was in the medical world. miracle plant , and other bizarre behavior were used in ancient medicine to treat various diseases and injuries.