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When Galeni Met Paracelsus: A Paleodermatological Case of Luetic Gumma Care

Rosalba Ciranni, MD
Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(1):101. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2008.523.
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Mary of Aragon (1503-1568) was a beautiful and cultured noblewoman who suffered from gummatous syphilis and condyloma acuminatum, which was supported by the identification of human papillomavirus 18.1,2 Medication that had been applied to care for an ulcerated luetic gumma was found on the left arm of her mummy. This case represents the only known example of ancient wound care with drug and bandage found in situ and exemplifies the medicophilosophical dispute between the authority of Galenic medicine and the growing power of the Spagyric medicine.

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The bandage on the left arm of the mummified body of Mary of Aragon (A); the undressed arm with the ulcer (B); the ulcer containing the pellet of fibers soaked in sulfur (C); the bandage, composed of a rectangular section and 4 laces (D); and ivy leaves in the linen envelope (E).

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