Most craft production in the ancient world required water for some purpose—as an element in the manufacturing process (pottery, plaster, dyeing, or paint preparation), for washing or cleaning raw materials (ore-washing, glass-making, fish processing), for tempering metals, or for cleansing of premises and equipment, while the erosive power of water was harnessed in the mining industry in Roman times. Ancient industries or crafts might of course be located either in towns or in the countryside, but there appears to be relatively little difference in most cultures between water-supply strategies of the majority of urban and rural artisanal production (predominantly wells and cisterns). Mining is of course an exception, as is the use of aqueduct supply for some fulleries in the Roman world (below).
Despite the ubiquitous use of water in ancient manufacturing, almost no comprehensive study has been made of the subject. Whilst much attention has been paid to artefacts from ancient cultures, far less research has been devoted to the physical structures associated with craft production. A case in point is the publication of a Nabatean pottery workshop at Oboda, which devotes some two pages of text and two of plates to a description of the workshop, and 32 pages of text and 31 of plates to the ceramic finds.1 The description of the workshop concludes (p. 13): “The Oboda potter's workshop was a quite primitive installation, not much different from similar Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine installations in Palestine (or elsewhere in the Graeco-Roman world), and does not need further comment.” In fact, the number of Graeco-Roman kilns published in even this degree of detail is still woefully low, and even fewer have published details on ancillary structures or the workshop as a whole.2 For other
* Susanne Ebbinghaus, Tom Kiely and Maria Stamatopoulou have helped me
greatly by discussing aspects of this subject, and by providing (and sometimes trans-
lating) references. All errors are mine alone.
1 Negev 1974.
2 Cf. Peacock 1982, 52.