Inspiring innovation from tradition

Publishing documents that transmitted the ancient knowledge of plants to present day is a fundamental task in the Institute. The publishing company M. Moleiro Editorial (Barcelona, Spain) has commissioned the Institute with the task of coordinating the volume of studies that will accompany the facsimile reproduction of an important medieval book of medicinal plants: the Tractatus de herbis in the manuscript Sloane 4016 in the collections of the British Library in London. Archaia/Nea will report about the progress of this program.

Educating and circulating information is not less important for the Institute. In March, its Scientific Director, Alain Touwaide, has participated in a new program on the Social Dimensions of Health launched by the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, in which history of medicine was included.

Also, the Institute will be present in Rome (Italy), for the Night of Museums or Museums at Night. During this annual European event, hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites all over Europe unlock their doors for special, free, evening events. This year the event will be held over the weekend of May 14-15. During the Notte dei Musei, the Italian version of the event, the Museum of History of Medicine of the University La Sapienza in Rome (Museo di Storia della Medicina) will hold a 1-day seminar on Saturday, May 14th (9:00am to 6:00pm) in the Odeion of the Faculty of Letters of the university on New technologies applied to cultural heritage: protection, preservation and research (Nuove tecnologie applicate ai beni culturali: tutela, conservazione e ricerca). The morning session will be entirely devoted to the first results of one of our major research programs, the DNA analysis and study of the ancient medicines found in the shipwreck Relitto del Pozzino, sunk off the coast of Tuscany. Among the speakers will be the PI of this program, Alain Touwaide, and Smithsonian geneticist Robert Fleischer - who did the DNA analysis of the ancient medicines found in the shipwreck - as well as the archeologists and scientists of the Department of Antiquities of Tuscany, who did the digging and the chemical analysis of the organic material recovered from the shipwreck. For the first time, all the parts involved in this program will be around the same table to present the first results of this cutting-edge research and to discuss possible future steps for this investigation. The session will start at 9:00am. In the afternoon, there will be several presentations by young researchers of La Sapienza about new technologies applied to archaeology. The event will end at night, at the Museo di Storia della Medicina, with a practical demonstration of methods of DNA extraction from plants, performed by Laura Ottini. For more information, contact the Museum, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

On Sunday, May 15th, at 5:00pm, the scientists involved in the research on the Relitto del Pozzino will present to the public the results of their analysis at Piombino Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia, in Piombino, Tuscany), where the archeological remains of the shipwreck are currently preserved. A visit of the museum will follow the presentation. Here is the poster of the event (in Italian). Contacts for more info and directions: Tel # 39 0565 226445 / Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In the USA, Alain Touwaide and Emanuela Appetiti will attend and present a paper at the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals (ICSB), at Oxford, Mississippi, April 11-14. Here is the program of the conference.

Also, during the month of April, Alain Touwaide will direct students enrolled in the Medieval Program of Georgetown University, who will participate in a hands-on Internship on ancient manuscripts at the Smithsonian Institution.

Publications, international out-reach, education and cutting-edge research attest to the vitality of the Institute and its growing role in the scientific community. Pursuing in this way, the Institute will also launch in a near future a new series of publications: a newsletter specifically designed for its members--and exclusively for them--and providing information on medicinal plants and their uses through time.

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