From mine to apothecary: an archaeo-biomedical approach to the study of the Greco-Roman lithotherapeutics industry

Photos-Jones, E. (2018) From mine to apothecary: an archaeo-biomedical approach to the study of the Greco-Roman lithotherapeutics industry. World Archaeology, 50(3), pp. 418-433. (doi: 10.1080/00438243.2018.1515034)

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Abstract

Western biomedicine has only partially developed its own tradition of mineral medicinals (lithotherapeutics), at least compared to botanicals. This is perhaps because these minerals were site-specific, and fundamental information associated with the empirical processes of mineral extraction, beneficiation, storage, trade and preparation was not widely available. In other words, there are many and serious breaks in the multi-link chain from mine to apothecary. This long-term investigation aims to rebuild this chain, on a mineral-bymineral basis, by pulling together the extant documentary record, material culture, mineralogy, geochemistry and microbial ecology, as well as by testing against known pathogens as an indicator of their antimicrobial activity. Critical to understanding the nature and efficacy of lithotherapeutics is the recognition that these materials need to be investigated simultaneously at two levels: the empirical (ancient sources and practices); and the biomedical (application of physical and biological sciences). Both approaches require the same starting point, namely the field (mine or quarry) and in particular the ‘point of contact’ (relationship) between minerals and their microbiome.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported Wellcome Trust Seed Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences; [201676/Z/6/Z]; nature of Greco-Roman antimicrobial minerals and their microbiome; NERC- FENAC; [2015/11/07].
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Photos-Jones, Dr Effie
Authors: Photos-Jones, E.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:World Archaeology
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0043-8243
ISSN (Online):1470-1375
Published Online:18 October 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author
First Published:First published in World Archaeology 50(3): 418-433
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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