Effie Photos-Jones is an archaeological scientist, the director of a company specialising in the analysis of archaeological materials based in Glasgow, UK and a long term honorary member of staff at the Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow. She has published extensively on aspects of the ancient metals and chemical industries. Together with her colleagues at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital she has highlighted the potential of the Earths of the Aegean, a group of common minerals yet particulate to the islands of their origin, as potent pharmaceuticals.
Our work over the last few years has focused on the earths of the Aegean, a generic name to cover a multitude of minerals with a wide range of well-documented pharmacological applications, from antiquity to recent times. For their elucidation, a multidisciplinary approach has been set in place firstly, to study their natural environment (geology/geochemistry) and ideally the locality of their extraction and processing at some period in the past (archaeology). Second, to examine their acclaimed efficacy for numerous ailments, in prescriptions and pharmacopoieias (historical sources). Thirdly, to assess their bioactivity (microbiology). At a time when new antibiotics are needed urgently, the earths of the Aegean offer a surprisingly well-established framework for the development of potentially new and successful antibiotics antibacterials/antifungals, while at the same time guiding and informing the investigation about psycho-social parameters which permeate our attitudes to health and well-being.