1-5 of 5 Results  for:

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine x
  • Ancient Economy x
Clear all

Article

Jared T. Benton

The earliest Roman bakers almost certainly made bread for their own households, but not for sale to the public. Pliny the Elder tells us in his Natural History (18.28) that among the quirites of Rome’s past, women baked the family’s bread, an observation he bases on comparisons with contemporary non-Roman peoples. Yet modes of domestic production were probably as diverse as the families themselves; early terracotta figurines from the eastern Mediterranean show women, men, and children all participating in the production of bread (Fig. 1).Moreover, the figurine shows both milling and baking, processes that remained interlinked until the end of antiquity. Even later commercial bakers seem also to have been millers. Medieval bakers, however, rarely milled their own grain. To some extent, this resulted from the advent of new technologies such as watermills and windmills, but the watermill, at least, was available from the 1st century bce onward (Vitr.

Article

glass  

Frederick Norman Pryce and Michael Vickers

Glass (ὕαλος (also 'rock crystal'), vitrum). The art of producing a vitreous surface on stone, powdered quartz (faience), or clay was known in pre-dynastic Egypt and passed to Crete during the second millennium bce. Glazed objects are common on Greek sites of the Archaic period, some of them Egyptian imports, others probably made locally. In Hellenistic and Roman times Egypt and Asia Minor were centres of fabrication of glazed wares, which often imitated bronze.Objects composed entirely of glass paste begin to appear in Egypt about 1500 bce, when two allied processes seem to have been in use: modelling molten glass about a core of sand, and pressing it into an open mould. The chief Mycenaean glass is dark blue imitating lapis lazuli, used for beads, inlays, and architectural ornaments. In the 6th cent. small vases made by the sand-core process became known in Greece; they have opaque blue, brown, or white bodies and a marbled effect was produced on their surface by means of a comb or spike. In the Hellenistic period mould-made bowls come into fashion; these were produced mainly in Egypt. Here the tradition of opaque polychrome glass was continued into Roman times with millefiori bowls, in which marbled and other polychrome patterns were formed by fusing glass canes of various colours and pressing them into moulds.

Article

Robert Schon

During the Bronze Age, people living in the Aegean region began adopting standardized measures. Aegean metrology took numerous forms and included measurements of weight, volume, length, area, and time. Some metrological units are depicted on Linear B (and some earlier Linear A) texts of the Late Bronze Age. In a few cases, archaeological remains, such as weights and scales, provide further insights into Aegean Bronze Age metrology.Ancient weights have been identified in numerous ways, some more reliable than others. A few weights appear in proportional sets or are marked with their unit designation, making their identification straightforward. In other cases, archaeologists rely on context or reasonable deduction (e.g., “What else could they be?”). Certain spool-shaped stones found in Early Bronze Age (c. 2500bce) contexts, most notably at Tiryns, may be weights.1 If so, these would be the earliest confirmed balance weights in the Aegean. Eleven haematite and two similarly hard stone weights were discovered by Valmin in various strata at Malthi, a Bronze Age site in .

Article

Andrew M. Riggsby

There is a large body of evidence for Roman use of weights and measures. In theory, they would have been able to measure a variety of quantities with great precision, given the variety of different-sized units at their disposal and an elaborate system of fractional subdivisions of those units. Moreover, those measurements could have been accurate with respect to a shared system because of publicly available exemplary standards, a theoretical connection between the definitions of the most important measurements, and the existence of state officials who could enforce the standards. As a result, Romans could, in principle, have conveyed very specific metrological information across a great deal of space and time. In practice, measurement was considerably less predictable and less precise. Actual measurement did not necessarily avail itself of the full resources of the theoretical system, and sometimes did not appeal to any general system. Moreover, overtly competing systems coexisted with the “official” ones at all times. Finally, it is not clear how coherent that official system was, nor were the actual systems of enforcement particularly robust. As a result, measurement was often imprecise and/or tightly localized (which probably generated weak expectations of being able to replicate measurement across different contexts).

Article

silver  

Frederick Norman Pryce, John Boardman, and Michael Vickers

While *gold could be easily obtained from alluvial deposits by washing, silver had to be extracted by regular mining processes. The *Phoenicians are said to have been the first to bring silver into general use; several of the silver objects mentioned in *Homer have Sidonian associations (see sidon). The main sources for classical Greece were Mt. *Pangaeus in *Thrace, *Lydia, *Colchis, *Bactria, Siphnos, and *Laurium which provided abundant supplies for *Athens. In the western Mediterranean *Spain was the most prolific source of supply, with *Sardinia, Gaul, and Britain as minor sources. The conquests of Spain and Asia made silver plentiful at Rome, where it had previously been rare.Silver was worked with a hammer into plates which were soldered or riveted together and then decorated with repoussé work (ἐμπαιστική), stamping, chasing, or engraving. Vases might be hammered or cast from a mould and were often adorned with reliefs (emblemata) let into the body of the vessel or crustae soldered upon the surface.