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Image of the Week: Water from ‘The Fountain of Youth’

10 Jan, 2014

Water from the Fountain of Youth!

As the New Year dawns many of us find ourselves taking stock, perhaps promising to start that diet, or hit the gym at least three times a week. If you’re vying to keep fit and stay young this January this week’s image might catch your eye.

This bottle is filled with water from “The Fountain of Youth” in Florida, which was believed to offer eternal youth to whoever drank it. A Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de León, who accompanied Christopher Columbus to the Americas, set out to find the miraculous “Fountain of Youth” in 1513, though records suggest he never found it. Instead, the site where his crew came ashore got entwined with the story and became a tourist destination where people still flock to drink the water in the hope it will keep them young.

“The Fountain of Youth”, like the “Elixir of Life” and the “Well of Eternal Youth”, is one of many similar stories found across cultures and throughout history. In ancient China many people became obsessed with gaining immortality. Emperor Qin Shi Huang went to extreme lengths to gain this prize, sending over a thousand men and women on a mission to find the elusive elixir of life. None of them ever returned.

Stories of eternal youth still captivate us – Doctor Who has featured several storylines about life enhancing elixirs, and the famous Harry Potter spends his first year at school protecting the Philosopher’s Stone, giver of eternal life, from the evil Lord Voldemort.

Sadly evidence is lacking to show “The Fountain of Youth”, “Elixir of Life” or “Well of Eternal Youth” are any more real than The Doctor or Mr Potter – so for now we must get back on the treadmill and keep off the cakes!

Image credit: British Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form and many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.

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