The tablets also contained pollen from a variety of insect-pollinated plants, which suggested a bee product was included in the medine. Bees also contributed the wax used in making the pills.
Other ingredients included iron oxide, starch, pine resin, and a mixture of plant and animal lipids, the building blocks of fats.
The researchers deduced that these tablets may have been an eye medicine, since their shape and ingredients are consistent with ancient descriptions of ocular unguents.
The rest of the cargo of the ill-fated ship suggested to the researchers that the vessel may have left from the east and was first equipped in Delos, Greece on its way to Populonia in Etruscan controlled Italy. The ship was first discovered in 1974 and contained glass bowls from what is now Syria and Palestine, wine containers, lamps, and a variety of other goods.
IMAGE: The doctor Japyx heals Aeneas (Naples National Archaeological Museum, Wikimedia Commons)