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Technology, History of

(4,496 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) [German version] A. The Technology of Classical Antiquity as a Research Area (CT) Classical scholarship did not recognize ancient technology as the subject of a special discipline in its own right until late. Up to about 1980, investigations into problems of ancient technology by Classical historians, archaeologists and linguists were relatively rare, and only a few essays and monographs were generally devoted to the field; there were no general treatments of a scholarly standard, no…

Opera

(253 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The Latin term opera was used to describe the output of work demanded of a worker in one day. This says nothing about that worker's legal status; he could be a freeman, freedman or a slave (Cic. Off. 1,41; cf. also the definition in Paulus, Dig. 38,1,1: “operae sunt diurnum officium”). The Roman agrarian writers use opera to determine precisely at what time certain work had to be done; in this way, it was possible to specify the speed of the work above and beyond the working hours and to calculate the number of slaves needed for a rural…

Brick­yards

(532 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] ( figlina). Building bricks and roof tiles were produced in brickyards close to clay deposits and then transported to the building sites. Because of their great weight, every effort was generally made to avoid long transport distances; for that reason, brick production was not concentrated in certain centres, but spread across all of Italy. Nonetheless, brickyards close to the coast, whose bricks could be transported by ship, supplied entire coastal regions; bricks of the figlina of Vibius Pansa near Ariminum can be found across the entire northern Adri…

Vexillatio

(223 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] From the late 1st cent. onwards, rather than entire legions (Legio) being sent to reinforce Roman troops in a theatre of war, smaller units were usually dispatched to the scene; these were formed for the specific occasion, and their members drawn from individual legions or auxiliary units (Auxilia). Thus, for the siege of Jerusalem during the Jewish War, the legions stationed in Egypt provided 2,000 soldiers and the frontier troops on the Euphrates 3,000 (Jos. BI 5,43 f.). Such units, called vexillationes, normally comprised 1,000 (ILS 2726) or 2,000 men. They…

Lifting devices

(629 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] Ever since large temples were built of stone in Greece (early 6th cent. BC), architects have been faced with the problem of lifting heavy blocks of stone, for the walls or the architrave, and column drums as far as the building plan demanded. In doing so, loads of significant weight often had to be dealt with, because stone, after all, weighs approximately 2.25 t/m3, and marble c. 2.75 t/m3. In the Archaic age, blocks for the architrave weighed between 10 and 40 t. At first, the stones were put into place via a ramp, as is recorded for the constru…

Slave revolts

(1,378 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The great slave revolts in Roman Antiquity occurred within a comparatively narrow time span, in the 2nd and early 1st cents. BC; geographically, they centred around Sicily and southern Italy. The extent of these great revolts remains unique; bands formed by fugitive slaves never reached the same level either before or later, nor were they comparable with these revolts (Chios: Ath. 6,265d-266e; Bulla Felix in Italy: Cass. Dio. 77,10). Even though these rebellious movements of the u…

Traffic

(1,288 words)

Author(s): Nissen | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
The overcoming of distances by people and goods, using means of transport on transport routes. [German version] I. The Ancient Orient The oldest means of transport are people, beasts of burden and boats. They were used for short- and long-distance traffic alike, for individual items and for bulk transport. It was not only in the nomadic context (Nomads) that donkeys and later camels were employed unharnessed for their stamina as beasts of burden, and their ability to travel long distances with little food. In Egypt,…

Univira

(219 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The idea that in a woman's life she should be married to only one man was considered a traditional ideal of Roman society; correspondingly only women who had been married just once were admitted to the cult of Pudicitia (Val. Max. 2,1,3; Liv. 10,23,3-10). Although in the late Republic and the early Principate the number of divorces increased and remarriages of divorced women and widows was normal, this ideal retained its validity (Catull. 111,1 f.). Propertius emphasizes in his el…

Lead

(759 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] Metal of low hardness, high specific weight (11.34) and low melting point (327°C); the most important lead-ore to be found in nature is galena (galenite; PbS), due to its silver content of up to 1% of greater economic significance in antiquity, mainly for the extraction of silver. The silver of Laurium, for instance, was extracted by mining and smelting galena. Important deposits outside of Attica were located mainly in Spain, Sardinia and Britain. In antiquity, lead and tin were considered two types of one metal; in Latin, lead was called plumbum nigrum, tin plumbum cand…

Flooding

(1,042 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] ( inundatio: ILS 207; 5797a; Tac. Hist. 1,86,2; diluvia: Plin. Ep. 8,17,1; aquae ingentes: Liv. 35,9,2; 38;28,4; aquarum magnitudo: Liv. 30,26,5; 30,38,10; proluvies: Cic. Ad Q. Fr. 3,5,8). Only exceptionally were natural catastrophes taken as historiographical subjects in Antiquity, and then for instance when earthquakes hit famous cities and substantial emergency measures were undertaken to help the populace. This is true in the case of flooding and flood disasters, too, on which subject we have info…

Castration of animals

(328 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] ( castratio) was a frequent procedure in ancient agriculture, designed to adapt the characteristics of male animals to the requirements of human beings. In horses and cattle, the castration served the purpose of altering the temperament of the animal without impairing its viability (Xen. Cyr. 7,5,62). Aristotle describes the effects of castration in his zoological writings, drawing attention to how the mutilation of a small part of the body affects an ani- mal's entire appearance. …

Wealth, distribution of

(1,635 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. General The study of the distribution of wealth in a society should offer information about the various types of wealth and their economic significance in a national economy and about the share of individuals or social groups in the overall national wealth. Because quantitative information on the economy and private wealth is only available in an extremely limited scope for Antiquity, the statistical methods of modern economics cannot be applied in the field of ancient economic h…

Gynaecocracy

(553 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] (γυναικοκρατία; gynaikokratía). The term gynaecocracy (‘Rule of women’, from Greek γυνή/ gynḗ, ‘woman’ and κρατεῖν/ krateín, ‘to rule’; cf. gynaikokrateísthai, ‘to be ruled by women’) is first attested in philosophical texts from the 4th cent. BC. The use is almost always polemical. In Aristotle the gynaecocracy becomes a theme in the context of criticism of the politeía (constitution) of the Spartans and was considered as the prerequisite for greed and an extremely unequal distribution of land (Aristot. Pol. 1269b 12-1270a 31; cf. als…

Social and Economic History

(4,439 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) [German version] A. The Enlightenment's Assessment of Ancient Society (CT) Although ancient society played a prominent role in Enlightenment discourse, clarification of historical fact was not always the primary consideration in the treatment of any particular theme; rather, Greek or Roman society was described and cited in various theoretical contexts as a model or classified historically to justify or refute particular philosophical, political or economic positions. Influenced b…

Fiscus

(396 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] In the time of the late Republic the word fiscus on the one hand referred to a container for storing money, on the other hand it already referred to public funds that were placed at the disposal of a promagistrate in the province (Cic. Verr. 2,3,197). Furthermore fiscus also meant the private assets of a Roman citizen. In the Principate period the fis cus was the cashier's office of the princeps; as he alone could dispose of the fiscus, he could also exercise considerable influence over politics by using these finances. This already applies to Augustus who …

Screw

(531 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The screw appears among the five simple mechanical instruments listed in the Mechanics of Hero I of Alexandria (1st cent. AD), next to the rotating axle, lever, pulley and wedge (Hero, Mēchaniká 2,5). It is not mentioned either in the description of surgical instruments in Hippocrates (Hippoc. Perì agmôn 31) or in Aristotelian mechanics. Since there is no indication of the use of the screw before Archimedes [1], it can be considered one of the most significant technical inventions of the Hellenistic period. It appears that the principle of the screw was first us…

Water lifting devices

(1,820 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] I. General points Water was needed for various purposes in ancient civilizations: in the household as drinking water, for preparing food, and for hygiene (Hygiene, personal); in crafts (Crafts, Trade) for metalwork (Metallurgy) and for fulling (Fulling, Fuller); in public life for bathhouses and thermae; and finally in agriculture for the irrigation of gardens and fields. However, in the Mediterranean region, it was not available in sufficient quantity and quality in the form of surf…

Ivory

(218 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] (ἐλέφας/ eléphas, Latin ebur) was obtained from the tusks of African and Indian elephants, and like silk, amber, incense and pepper is one of those precious goods that had to be imported from areas outside the Roman empire; according to Pliny, ivory was the most valuable material supplied by land animals (Plin. HN 37,204). The price for ivory was extraordinarily high in the 1st cent. AD; nevertheless there was a shortage of ivory so that people began also to process the ordinary bone…

Fowling

(509 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] (ὀρνιθευτική/ ornitheutikḗ, ἰξευτικά/ ixeutiká; Latin aucupium). As is shown by the large number of casual references, fowling was probably very widespread in Antiquity, and in rural regions was esp. common. In literary texts, fowling regularly appears in connection with hunting and fishing, as in Sophocles [1], who introduces fowling to illustrate the supremacy of humans over animals (Soph. Ant. 342-347). Plato [1] deals with fowling among the regulations for hunting, but rejects it a…

Lime

(576 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The technique used by the Greeks, of binding the individual blocks in quarried-stone walls by means of variously formed metal clamps, was adopted by the Romans for their monumental architecture. Besides that, they early on used mortar made of lime and sand as a bounding agent in house building. Thus, lime, which in Greece had been used primarily for the roughcast of buildings, acquired greater importance as a building material in the Roman period. Lime is obtained from limestone by burning at temperatures of some 1000° C; the calcium carbonate (CO3Ca) turns into calciu…
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