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Saponification for Treatment of Burns from Exposure to Volcanic Fallout Material: A Lesson from Bronze Age Santorini Eruption

Siro I. Trevisanato


Saponification, used during the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia to clean wool, was adapted in Egypt for medicinal purposes. Remedies in medical papyri from Bronze Age Egypt describe cold procedure saponification of alkalis, such as latex, by mixing them with melted lipids such as bovine fat and wax. The resulting paste was used to adequately treat injuries caused by exposure to volcanic ash fallout from the Santorini Eruption at the end of seventeenth century BC. The best example thereof is the London Medical Papyrus 55 that adequately treated the burns caused by the acids ejected by the eruption and prevented the formation of larvae in the wound.

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