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Potingair Press was first launched in 2011 by a small group of practicing archaeologists working in Scotland and the Eastern Mediterranean. Its aim is to disseminate to the public-at-large, in an easy and informative way, the results of current multi-disciplinary research in archaeology, history, the environment and the physical and earth sciences.

The logo of Potingair Press is Master Brun (or Brown), a potingair (or apothecary in Scots), a historical person who lived and practiced in Stirling, Scotland, in the late 15th century. His image, clutching his alembic and looking around him inquisitively, comes from a manuscript dated to the 17th century. Little is known of him outside his practice, but in our view, Master Brun epitomises our curiosity to observe, record, understand and disseminate the benefits received.

In 2011 Potingair launched its first series, Early Materials and Practices. The aim of the series is to revive cultural landscapes where there is little to see today but where there is considerable historical and archaeological evidence for particular 'industrial' events having taken place in the past. These usually fragile landscapes are often places of extraordinary beauty and there are lessons to be learnt regarding their relevance to the present and the urgent need for their preservation. The books are in full colour and contain detailed maps in a clear and informative style. Potingair is also launching two new series: Archaeology, Ritual and the Landscape and Artists and their Materials.

Potingair accepts manuscripts from academics or independent researchers who would like to make their work known to a larger audience. All books are peer reviewed. If you have a manuscript that you would like to submit to Potingair please click Directions to Contributors.

Archaeopress began distributing Potingair Press titles worldwide (excepting North America) in January 2016.


NEW: Sweet Waste: a view from the Mediterranean and from the 2002 excavations at the Tawahin es-Sukkar (Safi), Jordan by Richard E. Jones and contributors. 245pp; Illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. Published by Potingair Press.ISBN 9780956824035. £45.00 (No VAT). Buy Now

The history of cane sugar from its origins in the east to its status as a luxury foodstuff and even medicine in the medieval period to a commodity produced and consumed globally in today’s world is well known. Yet archaeologically, sugar is an invisible commodity, its presence usually being inferred from the humble sugar pots used in the last stages of its sophisticated production process. This book attempts to redress the imbalance between history and archaeology by reporting on the excavation of a medieval sugar refinery, Tawahin es-Sukkar near Safi, situated south of the Dead Sea in Jordan. There it was possible to explore many of the steps in the sugar-making process. The book’s title refers to the industrial waste whose study has shed light on those steps. To place this refinery in chronological and economic context, excavation was extended to the adjacent ‘support town’ of Khirbet Shaykh ‘Isa; the book presents its results.

The available archaeological evidence for sugar production across the Mediterranean is reviewed. There is particular emphasis on the sugar vessels and the light they can shed on the poorly understood relationship between primary production centres, refining, storage and consumption centres. The book, which is fully illustrated, can be profitably read by archaeologists, archaeological scientists, historians and visitors to Jordan alike.

About the Author: Richard Jones has wide-ranging experience in archaeological science in the Mediterranean and especially in Greece and Italy The production and distribution of pottery is one of his main interests. Until recently he was Senior Lecturer in archaeological science at the University of Glasgow.
FORTHCOMING: The Healing Springs of Argyll by Alex Alexander and Allan Stroud. Illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. Published by Potingair Press.ISBN 9780956824042. £35.00 (No VAT). Buy Now

Healing springs have played a significant role in the folklore of many cultures in most geographical regions. In Scotland, these natural features are referred to as ‘holy wells’ and some have been venerated since pagan times. In introducing the ‘holy wells’ of Argyll and Bute in western Scotland, this book examines, with the aid of GIS techniques, the archaeological landscape surrounding these ‘monuments’ spanning from the Neolithic to the present day; it also provides information about their geological and hydrological setting. The book sets out to address a single question: what made those ‘holy wells’ holy; although the answer is complex, multi-tiered and often unsatisfactory, it is clear that once a ‘healing’ attribute, whether physical or spiritual, is attached to a particular natural spring, communal will, from the elite to the ordinary people, have been reluctant to remove it.

The second part of the book is in the form of a guidebook. While the first part aims to bring the landscape to the reader, the second part aims to achieve the opposite. Via a number of clearly laid-out itineraries, each with a particular ‘holy well’ as its focus, the book highlights the wells’ positions with respect to known domestic, ritual or burial monuments. The visitor is thereby made aware of the geological, historical and archaeological landscape that surrounds each natural spring. The healing springs of Argyll have been recorded to an archaeological standard, and are presented in an accessible manner.

About the authors:
Alex Alexander and Allan Stroud are freelance landscape archaeologists, living and practicing in Scotland, with interests in its prehistoric and early Christian periods, respectively.
Rhesus' Gold, Heracles' Iron: the archaeology of metals mining and exploitation in NE Greece by Nerantzis X Nerantzis. ISBN 9780956824028. £35.00 (No VAT). Buy Now

East Macedonia in northern Greece has rich deposits of gold and silver as well as copper and iron ores. The gold and silver were important to Classical Athens and even more so to Alexander the Great’s Hellenistic world. Copper was extracted as early as the Late Neolithic, and iron was worked from the Iron Age to Ottoman times. Bringing to life the essential background to this wealth derived from metals, this book looks at the archaeological and archaeometallurgical evidence, some of it very new, for the mining and processing of the ores and the extraction of the metal. The book is written with the visitor to the region very much in mind, taking the reader closer to the landscapes where these practices took place to make sense of ‘silent landscapes’ where so much happened at one time but where nature has now taken over the remains of buildings, installations and heaps of waste rendering them ‘mute’ and meaningless for all but the expert historian of technology. Written by a native of the region who has himself been directly involved in field and laboratory work on ancient metallurgy, this book will raise the profile of this aspect of the region’s past as well as the region’s great natural beauty.

About the Author:
N Neratzis is an archaeologist working for the Greek Archaeological Service in eastern Macedonia. He combines extensive fieldwork experience with a specialism in archaeometallurgy; his recent PhD was on metals extraction during the Byzantine period, in N. Greece.
Eros, mercator and the cultural landscape of Melos in antiquity The archaeology of the minerals industry of Melos by Effie Photos-Jones and Alan J Hall. 261 pages; illustrated in full colour throughout.ISBN 9780956824011. £45.00 (No VAT). Buy Now

The island of Melos in the Cyclades has a rich archaeology having played an important part in prehistory and throughout history. But owing to its unique geology it is also home to a wide array of rocks and minerals which have been exploited since the first human occupation of the island. This book is about the archaeology of the minerals industries of Melos in antiquity. The localities of their extraction and the type of processing they may have been subject to have been reconstructed on the basis of archaeological evidence.

At the site of Aghia Kyriaki, SE Melos, there is evidence for large-scale exploitation of alum in the Late Roman period, its processing in large shallow vessels and packaging into amphorae; there is also evidence for the use of geothermal energy there and in neighbouring Palaeochori Bay; there are phreatic explosions near the sulphur mines at Fyrlingos; finally, there are the egkoila of Melos, the rock-cut cavities carved out of the island’s ubiquitous white altered volcanic rock which gave rise to its minerals.

The ancient texts and epigraphic evidence also take centre stage, depicting the nature of Melian society from the momentous events of 416BC to the Late Roman period. This book will have wide appeal to archaeologists and historians, to geologists and mineralogists and to all those interested in the island or just visiting it.

About the Authors:
Effie Photos-Jones is an archaeological scientist and director of SASAA, a company based in Glasgow specializing in the scientific analysis of archaeological materials. She has co-directed archaeological research projects in the Aegean and carried out many archaeometallurgical studies in Greece including at Lavrion. She has published extensively on the topic of ancient technologies. Her current interests focus on early mineral pharmacological agents and the industries that made them available in antiquity.

Alan J Hall recently retired as Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow where he taught geoarchaeology. His specialist research interests are in mineralogy and geochemistry. He co-directed the research project on Melos.
Lemnian Earth and the earths of the Aegean An archaeological guide to medicines, pigments and washing powders by Effie Photos-Jones and Alan J Hall. 141 pages; illustrated in full colour throughout.ISBN 9780956824004. £30.00 (No VAT). Buy Now

The earths of the Aegean, the ‘industrial minerals’ of antiquity, were used daily by people as medicines, pigments, fumigants, mordants or washing powders. Attempting to bring these elusive substances out of the relative obscurity of the documentary sources, this book investigates whether they can be found today on the islands that gave them their names and whether they still ‘work’. Probably the most famous of the earths is that from the island of Lemnos in the north Aegean which was bestowed with rituals blessed by pagan gods and the Church for over two thousand years. Having found its source and examined its properties, the authors suggest that ancient myths and rituals may be covert ways of expressing geochemical and/or industrial processes, whose aim was to enhance the properties of a natural material with positive results to health and the prevention of diseases. The need to understand the earths of the Aegean is now very important: they can potentially throw light on a well-recorded practice known as geophagia, the deliberate consumption of clays by humans and animals; equally, they can guide current and ongoing pharmacological research into minerals-based antibiotics. The book includes practical information for the visitor to Lemnos who wants to explore the relevant aspects of the island’s history and archaeology.

About the Authors:
Effie Photos-Jones is an archaeological scientist and director of SASAA, a company based in Glasgow specializing in the scientific analysis of archaeological materials. She has co-directed archaeological research projects in the Aegean and carried out many archaeometallurgical studies in Greece including at Lavrion. She has published extensively on the topic of ancient technologies. Her current interest is in early mineral pharmacological agents and the industries that made them available in antiquity.

Alan J Hall recently retired as Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow where he taught geoarchaeology. His specialist research interests are in mineralogy and geochemistry. He co-directed the research project on Melos.
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