1-13 of 13 Results  for:

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine x
  • Greek Material Culture x
Clear all

Article

Alexander Jones

The Antikythera Mechanism (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. X 15087) was a Hellenistic gearwork device for displaying astronomical and chronological functions. Substantial but highly corroded remains of the instrument were recovered from an ancient shipwreck (see Figure 1).

The most complex scientific instrument to have survived from antiquity, it resembled the sphaerae or planetaria described by Cicero (1) and other Greco-Roman authors. The date of its construction is in dispute but must have been earlier than the middle of the 1st centurybce and can scarcely have been before the end of the 3rd centurybce. It is an invaluable witness for ancient mechanical technology at its most advanced level (see mechanics) as well as for Hellenistic astronomy.

Article

Fikret Yegül

In Homer’s world, bathing in warm water was a reward reserved for heroes. Ordinary Greeks bathed at home or in public baths characterized by circular chambers with hip-baths and rudimentary heating systems. Public bathing as a daily habit, a hygienic, medicinal, recreational, and luxurious experience belonged to the Romans. The origins of Roman baths can be traced in the simpler Greek baths and the bathing facilities of the Greek gymnasium and palaestra, as well as the farm traditions of rural Italy. The earliest Roman baths (balneae), which show the mastery of floor and wall heating, and a planning system based on controlled and graded heating of spaces, emerged in Latium and Campania by the early 2nd century bce. There is little doubt that bathing as an ultimate luxurious experience was epitomized by the imperial thermae first developed in Rome and spread to the provinces. These grand bathing palaces combined exercise, bathing, recreation, and quasi-intellectual activities in vast, park-like precincts, as best exemplified by the Thermae of Caracalla in Rome. The tradition of public bathing and baths passed on to Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Islamic societies across Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean.

Article

honey  

Robert Sallares

Honey (μέλι; mel), the chief sweetener known to the ancients, who understood apiculture (Arist.Hist. an. 623b5–627b22; Verg. G. bk. 4) and appreciated the different honey-producing qualities of flowers and localities. Thyme honey from *Hymettus in Attica was very famous, both for its pale colour and sweet flavour; Corsican, harsh and bitter; Pontic, poisonous and inducing madness (Dioscorides, Materia medica 2. 101–3). Honey was used in cooking, confectionery, and as a preservative. It was used in medicines, e.g. for coughs, ulcers, and intestinal parasites (Theophr. Hist. pl. 9. 11. 3, 18. 8). It had a very important role in religion, cult, and mythology. Its religious associations derive from the idea that it was a ros caelestis (‘heavenly dew’), which fell on to flowers from the upper air for bees to gather (Arist.Hist. an. 553b29–30). According to poets it dripped from trees in the *golden age (Ov.

Article

lead  

Oliver Davies and David William John Gill

Is mined in part for the extraction of *silver from its ores. Some of the major sources in the Greek world were located at *Laurium in *Attica, on *Siphnos, and in *Macedonia. There were extensive workings in Anatolia (see asia minor). In the western Mediterranean, lead was mined on *Sardinia and in Etruria (see etruscans). Roman extraction took place in *Spain, *Gaul, and *Britain. Stamped lead ‘pigs’ show that lead was being extracted from the Mendips shortly after the Roman invasion of Britain (CIL 7. 1201). In the late empire lead mines were operating in the Balkans. Lead isotope analysis has allowed different sources to be identified. Thus lead from Archaic deposits in Laconia, as well as traces identified in Roman skeletal material from Britain, can be traced back to Laurium.Buildings associated with the extraction of silver from the argentiferous lead ore have been excavated at Laurium. Litharge (the by-product of this process) has been found in protogeometric and even bronze age contexts. In the Greek world lead was used to form the core of bronze handles, to fix steles to their bases, and for small offerings (such as those found in the sanctuary of *Artemis Orthia at *Sparta).

Article

Nicholas Purcell

Tall monuments which might function as navigational marks were an early feature of ancient harbour-architecture (Archaic examples are known on *Thasos). The idea became celebrated with the building of the 100-m. (328-ft.) tower on the Pharus island at *Alexandria (1), which gave its name to the architectural genre (c.300–280 bce, by Sostratus of *Cnidus (Strabo 17. 1. 6)), and the colossus of *Helios at *Rhodes (280 bce, by *Chares (4) of Lindus (Plin. HN 34. 41)): both so famous as to be reckoned among the *Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Beacon-fires made such monuments more visible by night as well as by day: but their function as signs of conquest and displays of prestige was as important. Claudius' lighthouse tower at *Portus, intended to rival the Pharus, became a symbol of Rome's port and its activities. The (partly preserved) lighthouse at Dover castle, and its opposite number at Boulogne (*Gesoriacum) suggested the taming of the Channel; another survives at La Coruña (*Brigantium) at the Atlantic extremity of Spain.

Article

marble  

Donald Emrys Strong and Hazel Dodge

Under μάρμαρος, marmor, the ancients included granites, porphyries, and all stones capable of taking a high polish. In the third millennium bce the white marbles of the Greek islands were used for Cycladic sculpture. The Minoans employed coloured marbles and breccias for vases and furniture and in architecture for facings and column bases. The Mycenaeans also used coloured marbles, including green porphyry and rosso antico, for furniture and architectural decoration. Neither used marble as a building stone or for sculpture.The fine white marbles of Greece and the Greek islands were widely used for architecture and sculpture from the 7th cent. bce onwards. Grey Naxian and white Parian, the best of the island marbles, were used for both sculpture and architecture; see naxos (1) and paros. The Pentelic quarries to the north-east of Athens (see Pentelicon) supplied a fine-grained marble for the *Parthenon and other 5th-cent. bce buildings in the city and its territory.

Article

John Ellis Jones

Metallurgy covers all processes involving native metal or metallic ores after mining (concentration, smelting, refining) up to the production of artefacts. Understanding these depends less on literary references (mainly Roman: *Strabo, *Pliny (1)) than on archaeological and scientific research, analytical, comparative, and experimental. Only the richest ores could be smelted directly; generally, enrichment was needed to avoid wasting fuel. So, mined rock was sorted underground and above, poorer material rejected, and the richer crushed with stone mauls or iron hammers on anvil-stones; deeply worn boulders are recognizable as such in *Laurium. Washing aided concentration of ores, especially those (gold, argentiferous lead) heavier than gangue; it could be done in pans or cradles, with rough cloth or fleeces (as in *Colchis, giving rise to the golden fleece legend). Milling to a fine grain, in rotary mills or hopper-querns, and sieving preceded washing. Laurium best exemplifies the elaborate arrangements for ore treatment which local conditions necessitated. Stone-built cement-surfaced rectangular washing tables had stand-tanks with funnelled jet-holes (perhaps serving wooden sluices), level floors, sunken channels, and sedimentation basins, which separated the milled ore from gangue and recycled water. There are also four known round washeries with helicoidal stone sluices. Repeated washing ensured the desired enrichment. Smelting was done with wood or carbon fuel in ovens of various forms, with heat intensified by means of bellows. Laurium offers five furnace sites, three excavated with a row of banked oven-rooms, filling-platforms, and traces of stone and clay chimney-ovens. Furnace techniques depended on the melting-point of metals, the ores used, the need to use fluxes or cope with slag, whether reduction or oxidization took place, and whether the process produced a liquid metal (copper, bronze, gold, a silver–lead mix) to be tapped into moulds to form ingots, or a livid mass (iron bloom) requiring hot hammering. Remelting and refining generally followed; so, ‘work-lead’, remelted under blown air produced metallic silver (for minting coins) and lead-oxide, which again remelted produced lead (for sealing cramps in masonry etc. ). The Greeks used crucible and cupellation methods, developed an early knowledge of alloys (e.g. copper, then arsenical coppers, true copper–tin bronzes, and lead-bronzes for casting), and mastered various hot and cold treatments for metals, smithing, and soldering. Some vase-paintings usefully illustrate workshop activities, like smithing and casting of bronze statues. See mines and mining, Greek.

Article

milk  

Robert Sallares

Fresh milk (γάλα, lac) was not very important in the Greek and Roman diet, for climatic reasons, and many people in southern Italy and Greece cannot digest lactose in milk. However, northern *barbarians, especially nomads like the *Scythians, were known to drink milk. The milk that was consumed, normally in the form of cheese or curds (ὀξύγαλα), was usually that of goats or sheep. Cows' milk found little favour. Butter (βούτυρον) was used only by barbarians, since the Greeks and Romans preferred *olive oil. Horses' milk was also known. Receptacles identified as feeding-bottles for infants have been found on archaeological sites, but breast-milk was much more important (see breast-feeding). Milk was highly valued in medicine. The physicians recommended the internal or external use of milk (both human and animal) or whey for numerous ailments. It was also used for *cosmetic purposes, and in religious ceremonies as a first-fruit offering (see aparchē), although its early use in this domain was often superseded by that of *wine.

Article

mills  

Kevin Greene

Mills ‘Saddle-querns’, in which grain (see cereals) was rubbed between a fixed flat lower stone and a smaller hand-held upper stone, had been in general use for thousands of years before the ‘hopper-rubber’ mill appeared in Greece by the 5th cent. bce. Mechanized versions consisted of a rectangular upper stone, with a cavity that acted as a hopper for grain, pivoted at one end to allow a side-to-side action; grooves cut into the grinding surfaces improved the flow of grain and the removal of flour from the lower stone. Perhaps as early as the 3rd cent. bce, the introduction of a pair of round stones made a dramatic improvement, for a central (adjustable) pivot took the weight of the upper stone, which could be moved in a continuous rotary motion, assisted by its own momentum, and propelled by a crank-like vertical handle set into the upper surface. This development did not take place in Greece, for rotary mills did not appear there before the Roman period. Rotary mills were also scaled up into the hourglass-shaped ‘Pompeian’ form, powered by animals or slaves, in contexts such as commercial bakeries.

Article

Stephen Hodkinson

Although animals were ubiquitous throughout the Greek countryside, animal husbandry has until recently received little systematic attention; hence current interpretations are frequently embryonic. Zooarchaeological studies of animal bone assemblages from the historical period are particularly needed.Evidence of domesticated animals goes back to the 7th millennium bce. In the early neolithic modest flocks of ovicaprines (sheep and goats), kept primarily for meat, were integrated into small-scale gardening, grazing on fallow and stubble and supplying manure. More specialized stock-keeping arose in the late neolithic and bronze age, with increased exploitation of ‘secondary products’, especially ox traction and ovicaprine textile fibres, culminating in the large-scale wool production of the Minoan and Mycenaean palaces (see minoan and mycenaean civilization). Older views of the Dark Age as one of nomadic pastoralism (often associated with the ‘Dorian invasions’; see dorians; heraclidae) are now under challenge. ‘Homeric society’ rested upon arable production, with large herds as a store for surplus wealth. The period of independent poleis (discussed further below) witnessed smaller herd sizes; Hellenistic and Roman Greece a subsequent increase.

Article

The polychromy of Greek and Etrusco-Roman architecture comprises the chromatic effects and surface treatments of exterior façades and roofs, as well as interior floors, walls, and ceilings. Colour and/or contrasts of light and shadow are the basis for all architectural ornamentation. The practice is characterized by a large variety of materials and techniques, which draw from different genres of the visual arts such as stone, plaster and stucco working, toreutics, tessellation, sculpture, panel painting, terracotta, and glass making. The treatment of architectural surfaces is thus intimately connected to changes in both construction knowledge and building economies, while their visual effects depend on changing architectural forms and designs. Both texts and archaeological remains underline the importance of colour and material as an integral part of ancient architectural design; they play a key role for the sensory and atmospheric experience of architecture and could influence its symbolic meaning.Despite strong regional traditions and a general lack of standardization, a few overall developments can be pinpointed: a triple colour scheme of dark (black, blue), light (white, cream), and red hues dominated both Archaic Greek and Etrusco-Italic architectural polychromy; its chromatic polarity became fundamental for the Greek Doric order and, as a basic combination, it remained a recurring motif of architectural surfaces into the Roman Imperial periods. During the Greek Classical period, green, yellow, and increasingly, gilding joined the basic colour palette. Late Classical/Hellenistic innovations included illusionistic painting techniques, intermediality (the imitation of one material by means of another), as well as the increase of light and shadow effects. While variation (Greek poikilia) of both colours and materials was a guiding principle, it seems that there were also occasional reductions of polychrome accentuations on exteriors.

Article

Hazel Dodge

Stone was an important material in both the Greek and Roman periods, not only for building, but also for decoration, sculpture, and vases. Whatever the stone, its geology defines the quarrying methodology and its subsequent uses. The Greeks started to extract stone by quarrying from the 7th cent. bce. Blocks were isolated by trenches using a quarry hammer. Metal wedges were then used to split them from the parent rock. The natural cleaving planes of the stone were at all times exploited. Open quarrying was preferred on grounds of ease and expense. However, if the good-quality material ran out above ground, underground workings were often opened, for example in the marble quarries of *Paros and the limestone ‘La Pyramide’ quarries near *Glanum. The Romans continued to use the same quarrying methods, also adopting some Egyptian techniques—for example the use of wooden wedges. However, the major difference between Greek and Roman quarrying was the scale of exploitation. The building records from Athens and *Epidaurus clearly demonstrate the piecemeal nature of Greek quarrying.

Article

John F. Lazenby

The Greek national epics focused on the siege of a city, but it took ten years to capture *Troy, even if, in the end, the ‘wooden horse’ was some kind of sophisticated siege device. The inability to take walled towns other than by treachery or blockade persisted into the historical period, despite a growing awareness of such techniques as the Persian siege-mound (cf. Hdt. 1. 162. 2) and undermining (Hdt. 5. 115. 2). *Pericles (1) is said to have been the first to use ‘siege-engines’ (mēchanai) at *Samos in 440/39 bce—they included ‘rams’ and ‘tortoises’ (i.e. sheds to protect undermining parties: Diod. Sic. 12. 28. 2–3). But despite the Athenian reputation for siegecraft (cf. Thuc. 1. 102. 2), they took three years to capture *Potidaea (432–429), and mainly relied on blockade, though in 430 they made some use of ‘siege-engines’, perhaps towers (Thuc. 2. 58. 1). Similarly, though the Spartans and their allies used a mound, battering-rams and even fire against *Plataea (Thuc.