ArticlePDF Available

Tradition and renovation in the ancient drugs of the Spezieria di Santa Maria Della Scala between scientific knowledge and magical thought

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

In this study we present the first physicochemical study of 231 drugs preserved in the main show-case at the ‘Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala’ (Rome), a conventual pharmacy founded in the late seventeenth century by the Order of the Discalced Carmelites. This pharmacy is therefore associated with the religious order of Spanish origin that at that time controlled trade with both the East and the West Indies. We assumed ‘a priori’ that the drugs preserved in the pharmacy could exemplify the amalgam of learning that made up pharmaceutical knowledge in Early Modern Europe, which is of interest to the History of Science. In order to identify the composition of these drugs, we used a multi-analytical approach by the combined use of optical microscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, FTIR, X-ray diffraction and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometer. Our results so far have enabled us to make an initial historical and cultural analysis of the drugs that were prepared by the Carmelite friars at this conventual pharmacy in Baroque Rome. One of the most interesting conclusions from this study is that a lot of identified substances had both artistic and medicinal use.
Content may be subject to copyright.
European Journal of Science and Theology, April 2018, Vol.14, No.2, 3-12
_______________________________________________________________________
TRADITION AND RENOVATION IN THE ANCIENT
DRUGS OF THE SPEZIERIA DI SANTA MARIA
DELLA SCALA
BETWEEN SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND
MAGICAL THOUGHT
Maria Luisa Vázquez de Ágredos Pascual1
*
, Giovanni Cavallo2,
Rita Pagioti3, Lucía Rojo Iranzo1, Marta Souto Martín1,
Philippe Walter4, Elsa Van-Elslande4 and Francesca Caterina Izzo5
1 Universidad de Valencia, Department of Art History, Avenida Blasco Ibáñez 28, 46010 Valencia,
Spain
2 Institute of Materials and Constructions, DACD-SUPSI, Campus Trevano, CH-6952 Canobbio,
Switzerland
3Dipartimento di Scienze Farmaceutiche, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Via del Giochetto,
Edificio B, piano 2, Italy
4Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS, UMR 8220, Laboratoire d´Archeologie
Moléculaire et Structurale (LAMS), 4 Place Jussieu 75005 Paris, France
5 Dipartimento Scienze Ambientali, Informatiche e StatisticheUniversità Ca´Foscari,
via Torino 155/b- Mestre Venezia, Italy
(Received 12 October 2017, revised 3 November 2017)
Abstract
In this study we present the first physicochemical study of 231 drugs preserved in the
main show-case at the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala (Rome), a conventual
pharmacy founded in the late seventeenth century by the Order of the Discalced
Carmelites. This pharmacy is therefore associated with the religious order of Spanish
origin that at that time controlled trade with both the East and the West Indies. We
assumed a priori that the drugs preserved in the pharmacy could exemplify the
amalgam of learning that made up pharmaceutical knowledge in Early Modern Europe,
which is of interest to the History of Science. In order to identify the composition of
these drugs, we used a multi-analytical approach by the combined use of optical
microscopy, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, FTIR, X-ray diffraction and gas
chromatography coupled with mass spectrometer. Our results so far have enabled us to
make an initial historical and cultural analysis of the drugs that were prepared by the
Carmelite friars at this conventual pharmacy in Baroque Rome. One of the most
interesting conclusions from this study is that a lot of identified substances had both
artistic and medicinal use.
Keywords: pigments, physicochemical analysis, historical study, cultural, significances
*
E-mail: mavazdea@uv.es; tel.: +34963864241; fax: +34963864496
de Ágredos Pascual et al/European Journal of Science and Theology 14 (2018), 2, 3-12
4
1. The ‘Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala
At the end of the seventeenth century there were many conventual
pharmacies in Rome. However, only four of them had gained the trust of royalty,
of the nobility and of the high clergy. These were the Spezieria dei Gesuiti del
Collegio Romano, the Spezieria de ‘Ara Coeli’, the Spezieria dei
Fatebenefratelli on Tiber Island, and the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala,
which is the focus of this research. These religious pharmacies were also
attended by the more humble sectors of Roman society because they could
obtain medicines even free or more cheaply than they obtained from secular
apothecaries. In fact, secular apothecaries had to pay high taxes, so the prices of
their drugs and other medicinal products were higher [1]. Taxes were established
by the Nobile Collegio Chimico Farmaceutico di Roma, founded on March the
8th, 1429. The Nobile Collegio aimed to regulate all matters pertaining to:
manufacture, sale, prices and fees of products prepared and dispensed by secular
apothecaries; registration fees and examinations for the commencement of
pharmaceutical practice; prohibitions to open new pharmacies in Rome, which
were exempted from paying the above taxes and other financial and legislative
fees set by the Nobile Collegio Chimico Farmaceutico di Roma for secular
pharmacies [2].
Conventual pharmacies were also not obliged to observe the Antidotarium
romanum which, according to the secular apothecaries, detracted from the
quality and safety of the medicines they prepared and dispensed. This explains
the decrees and edicts, issued during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to
prevent conventual pharmacies from publicly selling the drugs they prepared.
Some of the most important decrees and edicts were that issued by Pope
Innocent XIII in 1722 to prohibit Roman religious orders from selling any
medicines except theriac and apoplectic balsam [2], and the Edict of Pope
Clement XII, issued in 1735. Other decrees were subsequently published, but
they were unable to force the closure of the conventual pharmacies, and several
even survived until the beginning of the twentieth century. One example is the
Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala, founded by the Spanish Order of the
Discalced Carmelites. In 1829, during the papacy of Pius VIII, this conventual
pharmacy had the privilege to supply drugs for the Pontiff, his family, and the
Swiss Guard [3], a function that continued under the papacy of Gregory XVI,
who in 1838 ratified the pharmacy’s privileges [2, p. 263]. Due to this privilege,
the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala maintained it’s a good reputation until
1950 when it stopped the activity and the opening to public [3].
At the beginning, the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala owned the orto
medicinalis, where the Carmelite friars cultivated many of the vegetal species
(simple) they used to prepare compound drugs, for which they also used other
types of substances which were not necessarily of autochthonous origin. This
operating modality reproduced the modus operandi of the Carmelite monasteries
of the Middle Ages, when the order earned recognition around Europe for its
excellent work in the preparation and sale of medicines.
Tradition and renovation in the ancient drugs of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala
5
Other notable areas of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala were the
galenic laboratory, known as the liquorificio, where liquors and perfumes were
distilled, and of course the public sales room, which today displays numerous
cabinets and show-cases full of jars still containing traces of the original simple
and compound drugs (Figure 1). In this large room a ceiling mural can also be
observed with numerous flowers such as the poppy (Papaver somniferum L.).
This mural composes a framework of enormous beauty, full of symbolic content.
Initial iconographic analysis of the floral species depicted in the mural suggested
a close relationship between these flowers and the prescriptions used by the
Carmelite monks to prepare the drugs. A large one-metre-tall ceramic container,
used for storing theriac, dominates on side of the room. Theriac was a complex
compound, reputed as a universal antidote since ancient time [4]. Another
smaller container that still bears the remains of another resinous/aromatic
product with healing properties can be seen close to the large one.
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
Figure 1. (a) Sale room of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala, (b) Close-up
of the jars preserved in the main vitrine housed in the sale room, (c) Office, (d) Close-up
of the cupboards containing the boxes of simple drugs.
A door on one side of this room leads to the office, which houses large
wooden cupboards that were used to store the boxes of simple drugs. The doors
of these ample cupboards are decorated with images of great doctors and
historians (such as Dioscorides, Hippocrates, Galen, Avicenna and Paracelsus),
de Ágredos Pascual et al/European Journal of Science and Theology 14 (2018), 2, 3-12
6
whose treatises described the properties and uses of these simple medicines.
These representations on the cupboards, therefore, evoke the greatest exponents
of Middle Eastern Islamic and western Mediterranean medicine. This comes as
no surprise since, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the religious
order to which this conventual pharmacy belonged exercised the greatest control
over the trade routes to both the Far East and the New World. The Carmelite
friars of Santa Maria della Scala therefore had access to vegetal substances and
mineral resources that encouraged a certain ‘reinterpretation’ of the science of
Paracelsus. This is fully consistent with the occurrences in the field of European
medical/pharmaceutical science after the late sixteenth century when new
products began to arrive from the recently discovered America as it is
documented in the most prestigious monographs on professional practice
produced after the end of the 16th century. In Italy these include the Fiorentino
Ricetario of 1498, the Farmacopea di Mantova of 1559, the Antidotario di
Bologna of 1574, the PharmacopoeiaBergami of 1580, the Farmacopea
Romana of 1583, the Farmacopea Ferrarense of 1595, the Farmacopea di
Venezia of 1617, the Antidotario Romano of 1629, the Farmacopea di Milano of
1668, the Farmacopea di Bologna of 1641 and other documents such as the
nineteenth-century Codice farmaceutico per lo Stato della Serenisima
Repubblica di Venezia (Padova 1790), the Codex Medicamentariux Parmensis
of 1822, and the Farmacopea Napolitana of 1859 [2].
This amalgam of knowledge amassed at the Spezieria di Santa Maria
della Scala located halfway between the ancient western Mediterranean and
the Middle East (Islamic medicine) and halfway between the Far East (India)
and the New World (pre-Hispanic knowledge) as well as the work of
Paracelsus the bridge between the legacy bequeathed by Hippocrates and
Galen and a new pharmaceutical practice whose alchemical base laid the
foundations for modern chemistry encouraged us to propose a first research
project in this cultural melting pot of Baroque Rome. The name of this first
research project was Tracing back to Antiquity the composition and significance
of ancient drugs, pigments and fragrances found in a 17th century Roman
pharmacy: the archaeometric characterization and historical-cultural study of
an overlooked collection (Universidad de Valencia, 2014-2016), which led to
our current study, entitled Antichi minerali nell'arte degli speziali di
‘Medicamentaria Officina’ di Santa Maria della Scala, Roma. Indagini
Chimico-Fisiche e Studio Storico-Culturale (Aboca Museum, 2017-2018). In
both studies, we established a physical-chemical analysis protocol in accordance
with the set objectives.
2. Goals and methodology
The purpose of these two projects was to: (a) develop the archaeometric
study of the drugs, pigments and fragrances preserved at the Spezieria di Santa
Maria della Scala; and (b) develop the historical, cultural and symbolical-
medicinal interpretation and meaning of these products, tracing their projection
Tradition and renovation in the ancient drugs of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala
7
from Antiquity to the Early Modern Era. In order to reach these purposes we
needed to satisfy several intermediate objectives, including setting the products
in their ancient context (the Greco-Roman world, Pre-Hispanic America, and
ancient India and the Far East), placing them in their context of use (seventeenth
and eighteenth-century Italy and Europe), and projecting them into the modern
world while filtering them through the prism of the culture, society, scientific
and medical knowledge and belief system extant in each case.
The applied analytical techniques were: optical microscopy (LM), XRF,
FTIR, SEM/EDXS, X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD), and gas
chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The use of these analytical
techniques has been possible thanks to the collaboration between several
European universities and research centres in France, Italy, Spain and
Switzerland.
The obtained results have been studied in a first phase with the help of
written and visual historical sources, some of which are conserved at the
Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala. The pharmacy holds treatises on Medicine
and pharmacopoeias that were in use in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The collection includes late editions of Greek and Roman treatises, such as those
of Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen, and other transition authors between the
Middle Age and the Early Modern Era, such as Mesué and Paracelsus. The
pharmacy also holds herbal manuscripts that were produced by the Carmelite
friars, as well as accounts books and sales registers that show the products
dispatched, their composition (in some cases only), the names of clients, and
prices. The Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala also contains many
iconographic sources relevant to this project and which were considered in this
first phase of our historical study.
3. Results and discussion
As first result, it was found that seven groups of drugs were stored in the
Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala: (1) the complex formulations, (2) drugs
prepared with mercury, (3) drugs prepared with antimony, (4) drugs prepared
with iron, (5) organic compounds, (6) salts used for medicinal purposes and (7)
gems (Table 1).
The most abundant group is number 6 (salts). Over half of the studied
drugs at Santa Maria della Scala consist in salty materials, having different
names. However, preliminary FTIR and XRPD analyses showed that their
compositions are practically the same: i.e. mainly the potassium sulphate
arcanite with formula K2SO4 (Figures 2 and 3). Some of them may have pleasant
smell, such as Sal Tanasell, Sal Anonid, Sal Scabios and Sal Apet. It appears that
the salts may also have been used as components for other drugs, including
complex formulations. Therefore salts may be considered the main component in
the preparation of many drugs at Santa Maria della Scala. It is also interesting to
note that, according to seventeenth and eighteenth-century written sources, such
de Ágredos Pascual et al/European Journal of Science and Theology 14 (2018), 2, 3-12
8
as Farmacopea ad uso dei poveri (1794), the salts were used extensively to cure
the diseases of the poor [5-8].
Table 1. Drugs preserved in the most ancient containers.
Group
Compounds
Group 1
Complex
formulations
Antym Diaphor, Trocisc. Alb. Rax., Pietra divina,
Mutriforte Palay, Granat P.P., Anthiemet. P.P
Group 2
Mercury
Princip. Alb., Precip. Rub., Marcas. Arg. Grc., Mercurio
Solub. del Mosc., Protossido di Piombo, Cinabr. Nativ.,
Cinabr. Fact., Pulv. Absorbent Ven.
Group 3
Antimony
Sulph. Aur Antym., Antym Diaphor., Antymon. Diaphor
Mart., Sulph Aurat Antim., Stomat. Poter, Anthiemet.
P.P, Kerm. Minerv: Pro Veter, Reg. di Antimonio.
Group 4
Iron
Pulv. adcas. Mesne, Magist. Mart A.A., Pulv. Cahet.
Arnol, Lapis. Castrac, Antymon. Diaphor Mart., Bol
Armen, Ossido di Megane, Terr. Lemn., Pulv.
Astringent, Magist. Mart. Ap., Lap. Hematit. PP.
Group 5
Organic
compounds
Tint. di Cascarilla, Cascaril, Estratto di Cocca, Gumin.
Kui?, Resin Mechioar, Mirabol Citrin, Gran Paradis,
Lans. Fel. Rubr., Benzoin, Gumm. Gut, Mechoacan,
Gumm. Dragant, Corn. Cerv. PR., Lig. Aloe, Res Guajac,
Viper Pulv., Sarcocoll, Anis Stellat, Guaiaco Resin., Oss.
Cord. Cerv., Balsam. Peruvin, Ladon, Resin Scamon.
Group 6
Salts
Sal Vener, Sal Pimpinell, Sal Corall, Sal Guajac, Sal
Escorz Ner, Sal Beccabung, Sal Hyosciam, Sal Peon, Sal
Ormin, Sal Juvartel, Sal Eliotrop, Sal Juvartel, Sal
Asparag, Sal Caryoph, Sal Dictam Cret., Sal Polychr, Sal
Absynt, Sal Centaur, Sal Tanasell, Sal Tartar Solub., Sal
Anonid, Sal Capill Vener, Sal Agrimon, Sal Rest. Capr.,
Sal Scabios, Sal Apet., Sal Goniz, Sal Fenaot, Sal Junyp,
Sal Carlin, Sal Androsdem, Sal Tartar F., Sal Chichor,
Sal Balsamin, Sal Achant, Sal. Digest. Sylv., Sal Anet,
Sal Mirabit, Sal Aquileg, Sal Cyan, Sal Barden, Sal
Corocop, Sal Hyperic, Sal Lentise, Sal Chin, Sal
Theriacal.
Group 7
Gems
Margarit, Hyacint, Granat, Smerald, Pietre Preziose,
Rubin, Saphyr, Topat, Lapislazuli.
The investigation of these salts through LM allowed identifying very
different appearances (Figure 4). This result is extremely interesting because in
pharmaceutical science it is known that a modification in a compound can lead
to new properties and/or functions. In other words, the potassium sulphate that
seems to identify all salts at the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala, may have
had different medicinal applications depending on possible modifications. This
would explain the different names for these salts on the labels of the bottles.
However, this hypothesis needs to be studied later as part of our project.
Tradition and renovation in the ancient drugs of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala
9
(a)
(b)
Figure 2. X-ray powder diffraction profiles of the salts: (a) Sal Vener Arcanite (K2SO4)
and (b) Sal Apet Halite (NaCl).
981,8
1101,1
4-S alGu ajac _02
-0,0
0,1
0,2
0,3
Abs
981,8
1098,6
2-sal .P im pi nel l_0 2
-0,0
0,1
0,2
0,3
0,4
0,5
Abs
981,7
1098,5
1-S alV e ner_A TR -1R _ 04
-0,0
0,1
0,2
0,3
0,4
Abs
100 0 150 0 200 0 25 00 300 0 350 0 40 00
Wa ven umber s ( cm- 1)
Figure 3. FTIR spectra of the samples corresponding to Sal Guajac (top), Sal Pimpinell
(middle) and Sal Vener (bottom). Although the flasks storing the salts were labelled
under different names, they contained the same compound as identified in the three
infrared spectra, which all correspond to potassium sulphate.
de Ágredos Pascual et al/European Journal of Science and Theology 14 (2018), 2, 3-12
10
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
Figure 4. LM microphotographs of: (a) Sal Guajac, (b) Sal Pimpinell, (c) Sal
Vener, and (d) Sal Aquileg. Note how the appearance of these salts is not the same
even though they have the same chemical composition, i.e. potassium sulphate.
Iron, mercury and antimony have been used in medicine since Antiquity
[8] and they were widely applied in the medicine of the Middle Age and the
Early Modern Era. Colour, temperature and texture were optical qualities that
enhanced their healing properties. For example, from Hippocrates and Galen to
the pharmacopoeia employed at Santa Maria della Scala, hematite (α-Fe2O3) is a
red iron oxide often used to treat menstrual headaches and other diseases related
to blood imbalances. Also, the ancient relationship between iron (Mars),
mercury (Mercury) and antimony (Saturn) on one hand and the planets on the
other also conferred each of them with highly important healing properties in the
Middle Age and the Early Modern Era. The same occurred in the case of gems.
In their simple version, many of these drugs were pigments and colouring
matter that have been widely used for artistic purposes since Antiquity. It is not
surprising that the cupboards storing these simple drugs were known in the
Middle Age as the Armarium [2, p. 262]. It should also be remembered that the
inventories of apothecaries during Early Modern Europe contain the inscription
Pigmenta et Colores, which lists the products. It provides other invaluable data
for scholars interested in colour and drugs, such as costs or diffusion in each era.
One example is the 1589 Kolberg inventory list of the Ratsapotheke, which
divided simple and compound drugs into two groups; the first listed the
colouring matters using inscriptions such as Mineralia, Metalla and Lapides [9].
The development of these pigments and colouring matter has been studied in
important projects such as the Munich Taxae Project [9]. This drug-pigment
Tradition and renovation in the ancient drugs of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala
11
duality dates back to much more ancient times. For example, simple drugs such
as Lemnian Earth, which was found in traces at the Spezieria di Santa Maria
della Scala, alluded to the sacred drug-pigment prepared for commercialization
by the priestesses of the goddess Diana every year at her sanctuary on the Island
of Lemnos [10]. The medicinal, pictorial and ritual uses of this substance are
attested by both Pliny the Elder and Galen in their respective treatises. In the
case of Lemnian Earth it is interesting to note, given the association of epilepsy
with the Moon and therefore with Artemisa-Diana, that in Antiquity this drug
was prescribed to treat epilepsy (which the Corpus Hippocraticus refers to as the
‘sacred illness’).
Figure 5. Mass spectrum of a benzoic acid derivative identified in 119 and 193 samples
of the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala by GC-MS. In both cases the samples
correspond to a guayacil-based Resin.
Finally, organic compounds (and especially plants) received special
attention from the friars to prepare prescriptions at Spezieria di Santa Maria
della Scala in accordance with the most important pharmacopoeias from the
post-Constantine period, such as Antidotarium Nicolai. This had a great impact
on Italian medieval and modern pharmacopoeias through the School of Salerno,
where Arabic medicine (e.g. Bezoar) met Mediterranean (e.g. Lemnian Earth).
At Santa Maria della Scala there is evidence of both. However, there is also
evidence of the use, in seventeenth and eighteenth-century medical practice, of
organic substances from the New World (e.g. Mechoacan and Guaiaco Resin)
and from India (e.g. Gumin Kui). Several organic compounds that identify these
vegetal species of foreign origin have recently been identified by GC-MS
(Figure 5). This proves the amalgam of knowledge between East and West that
came together at this Carmelite pharmacy of Baroque Rome.
4. Conclusion
The first results from this research provided a wide panoramic view of the
pharmaceutical practice employed at Santa Maria della Scala from the
(rep lib) Benzoic acid, 3,4-dimethoxy-, methyl ester
50 160 270 380 490 600
0
50
100
79
137
196
O
O
OO
de Ágredos Pascual et al/European Journal of Science and Theology 14 (2018), 2, 3-12
12
seventeen century onwards. However, they also revealed the importance of
continuing this study with the aim: (a) to conclude the analysis for characterising
organic and inorganic substances in the complex formulations, and (b) to
conduct thorough historical research using prescription manuals (including
beautifully decorated herbal manuscripts) and many of the handwritten letters,
magisterial formulas, invoices, prescriptions, etc. that are conserved at Santa
Maria della Scala. All this unpublished documentation requires detailed study,
as does the bulk of the documentation from the pharmacy’s archives that are
now held at the National Library in Rome. While the written and visual
historical sources kept at Santa Maria della Scala have so far never been
studied, they probably contain numerous keys to better understanding the
amalgam of pharmaceutical knowledge that exists in this ancient laboratory.
Acknowledgment
This research was possible thanks to the support of the Aboca S.p.A.
Società Agricola (Sansepolcro, Italy), through funding of the Project: Antichi
minerali nell’arte degli speziali di ‘De medicamentaria officina’ di Santa Maria
della Scala, Roma. Indagini chimico-fisiche e studio storico-culturale (2017-
2018).
References
[1] L. Colapinto, Lectura Simplicium dalla botanica antica alla farmacopee del XVII e
XVIII secolo a Roma, in Erbe e speziali. I laboratori della salute, M. Breccia & S.
Buttò (eds.), Aboca Museum Edizioni, Sansepolcro, 2007, 17-29.
[2] C. Pedrazzini, La Farmacia Storica ed Artistica Italiana, Edizioni Vittoria, Milano,
1934, 261-307.
[3] A. Spotti, La Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala, in Erbe e speziali. I laboratori
della salute, M. Breccia & S. Buttò (eds.), Aboca Museum Edizioni, Sansepolcro,
2007, 191-198.
[4] C.N. Fabbri, Early Science and Medicine, 12 (2007) 247-283.
[5] G. Galeazzi, Farmacopea ad uso dei poveri, Giuseppe Galeazzi, Milano, 1794, 3,
5, 8, 15.
[6] G. Donzelli, Teatro farmaceutico dogmatico e spagirico del dottore Giuseppe
Donzelli napoletano, barone di Digliola (…), Gasparo Storti, Venetia, 1696, 509.
[7] C.G. Meyer, Manuale di Farmacologia, Giovanni Parolari Tipografo, Venezia,
1841, 478-479.
[8] L. Caprino, Drugs, 7000 years of History. From empirical remedy to
biotechnologies, Armando Editore, Roma, 2011, 25, 37, 71, 87, 152.
[9] A. Burmester, U. Haller and C. Krekel, Pigmenta et Colores: The Artist´s Palette in
Pharmacy Price Lists from Liegnitz (Silesia), in Trade in Artist´s Materials
Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700, J. Kirby, S. Nash & J. Cannon (eds.),
Archetype Publications, London, 314-324.
[10] E. Photos-Jones and A.J. Hall, Lemnian Earth and the earths of the Aegean,
Potingair Press, Glasgow, 2011.
... Cinnabar forms in volcanic soils or near thermal vents [Gazzola,1995], which explains why its supply was so limited and why it was so sought after for magical-ritual practices, medicinal-pharmaceutical treatments, and pictorial applications [Cervini-Silva et al., 2012]. In Mesoamerica, these three uses come together in the shrouding of Classic Maya dynasts, whose bodies were covered in cinnabar, cinnabar and hematite, or cinnabar and a red earth [Vázquez de Ágredos, 2018]. The magicalhttps://doi. ...
... Later, the funeral rites that developed in complex societies continued to use pigments to cover the deceased or shroud bodies. Red remained the pigment of choice, but not only red earth and hematite (Fe 2 O 3 ), but also new pigments of mercury, lead and arsenic, such as cinnabar (HgS), minium (Pb 3 O 4 ), and realgar (AsS), respectively, and organic red colours, such as cochineal (Dactylopius coccus), kermes (Coccus illicis), saffron or madder (Rubia tinctoria L.), among others [Vázquez de Ágredos, 2018]. ritual use of cinnabar derived from its resemblance to blood, and its supposed medicinal benefit was also due to its bright red luster. ...
... Cinnabar shiny surface stood for high colour-temperature. Following the principle of opposites (hot-cold), one could apply a red (i.e., hot) dressing to a part of the body affected by a cold-temperature disease to counter its harmful effects [Batta et al., 2013;Quintana et al., 2014;Vázquez de Ágredos et al., 2015;Vázquez de Ágredos, 2018]. In this way, cinnabar was thought to rebalance body temperature and restore health, which accounts for its purported medicinal properties [López Austin, 1989]. ...
Article
The funeral chambers of the ancient city of Calakmul (Mexico) and the individuals who were buried in them have brought in recent decades new knowledge about the beliefs and funeral customs of the pre-Hispanic Maya. Tombs and bodies were prepared as part of the rituals that should favor the return of ch'ulel to the Underworld, known as Xibalbá by the ancient Maya. The ch'ulel is one of the two anemic entities that inhabit the individual, equivalent to our concept of the soul. Bodies preparation included coloured scented body ointments application, with a deep symbolic connotation and probably also a conservative purpose. The aim of this research was to characterize pigments and binders used by ancient Maya in body ointments remains in human bones samples from Calakmul Maya archaeological site, and the latter, the physical–chemical identification of organic components mixed with these colours for funeral use, can be considered the great challenge of this research due to the limited results that have been gathered on the subject to date. For this purpose, a multi-analytical approach based on the combination of several non-destructive and micro-destructive analytical techniques has been selected. Pigments were studied by transmitted light optical microscopy, FT-IR spectroscopy in ATR mode, diffuse reflectance UV–VIS spectrometry, and EDX microanalysis provided elemental information in order to find characteristic elements useful to identify the unknown pigments. Surface of the samples was observed with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Gas-Chromatography coupled with Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS) and Pyrolysis-Gas-Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) were performed in order to collect information about organic fraction used as binding media. The multi analytical approach identified red pigments as Red Earth (or ochre) and Cinnabar, while the results obtained on organic fractions lead us to suggest the presence of lipidic and gum- based compounds.
Article
This study was carried out within the project “Roma Hispana. Nuevas tecnologías aplicadas al estudio histórico, la musealización y la puesta en valor de Patrimonio Cultural español en Roma: la spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala” (Universitat de València Spain), which is funded by the Conselleria d’Innovació, Universitats, Ciència i Societat Digital of the Generalitat Valenciana (2020–2021) and authorized by the Sovrintendenza Speciale Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio (Special Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape) of Rome, Italy. The spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala was the oldest apothecary in Europe managed by the order of Discalced Carmelite friars. Operating between the second half of the seventeenth century and the mid-twentieth century, over time it acquired great prestige, becoming known as the Pharmacy of the Popes. The aims of the “Roma Hispana” project are to study, musealize and disseminate the material and immaterial cultural heritage of this historical spezieria by combining physicochemical and cultural studies, new 3D technologies, and artificial intelligence. As a case study, in this paper we report the application of a laser scanner prototype for 3D color imaging of the spezieria’s sales room and use a simpler photogrammetry method to collect analogous data in the small nearby storeroom coupled to the high-power capabilities of the ENEA parallel computer facility. Digital data were collected to enable a virtual tour that provides a fully navigable, faithful, high-resolution 3D color model to render this ancient Roman apothecary accessible and usable to interested members of the public and experts in the sector (art historians, restorers, etc.). We also describe the 3D technology used to obtain three-dimensional images of the cultural assets of these spaces (mostly drug containers) and its results. The ultimate aim of this study is to achieve the virtual musealization of the heritage complex.
Article
This paper reports a pioneering study of an unknown historical drug formulation preserved in the Spezieria of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome, founded at the end of the seventeenth century by the Discalced Carmelites. Due to limited literature related to pharmaceutical remedies and drugs of the Early Modern Era (between the XV and XVIII centuries) and the complexity in their formulations, the study of these drugs represents a great challenge. The untargeted nature of the selected drug required a multi-analytical approach with complementary techniques to formulate a compositional hypothesis: FT-IR spectroscopy, gas chromatography-associated/mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) were successfully employed to identify different organic compounds. Systematic archaeobotanical research was performed as well, allowing us to acquire data related to the possible genus of plants from which these natural compounds derive and their geographical origin. The unknown drug formulation turned out to be a complex mixture used as an ointment with an anti-inflammatory purpose. It mainly contains a mixture of Venetian turpentine; a Pine resin (colophony) from the Pinaceae family; an exudate of a plant from South America, whose identified components are triterpenic compounds such as alpha- and beta-amyrins, betulin and lupeol; and saturated fatty acids which act as carriers and/or to reduce the viscosity of abovementioned exudates and resins. The study of historical drugs is important not only in order to know the practices handed down by the speziali in the past but also to reconstruct historical recipes, which can inspire new dermatological, cosmetic, hygienic and current healing products.Graphical abstract.
Article
The pharmacy ( spezieria ) Santa Maria della Scala was founded in Rome by the Discalced Carmelites Order in the 17 th century, and during the 18 th and 19 th centuries it became the official supplier of medicines for Vatican Popes. The laboratory and the cases of this spezieria still preserve glass jars with organic and inorganic materials, which were presumably used for medicine and artistic material preparation, whose composition is unknown to date. A research project was initiated with the aim to study the stored materials and the role that the pharmacy played in regional, national and international contexts. In this manuscript, the compounds were analysed through X-ray powder diffraction with the scope to derive the quantitative mineralogical composition of the inorganic fraction, their possible use in pharmacopoeias and as mineral pigments. Most of the analysed samples are salts (sulphates, chlorides, carbonates, phosphates, borates, sulphides), sulphates being the predominant class; oxides were also detected.
  • C N Fabbri
C.N. Fabbri, Early Science and Medicine, 12 (2007) 247-283.
Farmacopea ad uso dei poveri
  • G Galeazzi
G. Galeazzi, Farmacopea ad uso dei poveri, Giuseppe Galeazzi, Milano, 1794, 3, 5, 8, 15.
Teatro farmaceutico dogmatico e spagirico del dottore Giuseppe Donzelli napoletano, barone di Digliola (…), Gasparo Storti
  • G Donzelli
G. Donzelli, Teatro farmaceutico dogmatico e spagirico del dottore Giuseppe Donzelli napoletano, barone di Digliola (…), Gasparo Storti, Venetia, 1696, 509.
Drugs, 7000 years of History. From empirical remedy to biotechnologies
  • L Caprino
L. Caprino, Drugs, 7000 years of History. From empirical remedy to biotechnologies, Armando Editore, Roma, 2011, 25, 37, 71, 87, 152.
Pigmenta et Colores: The Artist´s Palette in Pharmacy Price Lists from Liegnitz (Silesia), in Trade in Artist´s Materials Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700
  • A Burmester
  • U Haller
  • C Krekel
A. Burmester, U. Haller and C. Krekel, Pigmenta et Colores: The Artist´s Palette in Pharmacy Price Lists from Liegnitz (Silesia), in Trade in Artist´s Materials Markets and Commerce in Europe to 1700, J. Kirby, S. Nash & J. Cannon (eds.), Archetype Publications, London, 314-324.
Lectura Simplicium dalla botanica antica alla farmacopee del XVII e XVIII secolo a Roma
  • L Colapinto
L. Colapinto, Lectura Simplicium dalla botanica antica alla farmacopee del XVII e XVIII secolo a Roma, in Erbe e speziali. I laboratori della salute, M. Breccia & S. Buttò (eds.), Aboca Museum Edizioni, Sansepolcro, 2007, 17-29.