How Medieval Old Wives Can Save Lives Today

One of my particular interests is how knowledge is often embedded in folklore and myth.  In the past these fireside stories were usually dismissed as flights of imagination by the ignorant – by modern standards – and of little use.  That view is changing.

Plenty of noses turned up at ancient medical treatments too.  So this caught my eye: the formation of a multi-disciplinary ‘ancientbiotics’ team, comprising pharmacologists, microbiologists, medievalists, chemists and data experts in the UK and US.  The aim is to test if medieval medical treatments have anything to offer modern medicine.

The team was formed at the University of Nottingham in response to the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Erin Connelly, a fellow in digital manuscript studies at the University of Pennsylvania, is creating a database of the ingredients used in medieval medical recipes, and also how they are used in combination.  “The past could inform the future'” she says.

“The team believes that novel routes to antibiotic discovery are necessary, and that present-day research may also reveal something about the methodology of medieval practitioners.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.