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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 …

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…

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…

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…

Purple

(582 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] (πορφύρα/ porphýra, Lat. purpur) was a dye (Dyeing) used in Antiquity for the manufacture of costly materials and garments. It was obtained from various species of sea-snails (Snails and slugs) living in the Mediterranean; Aristotle devoted lengthy disquisitions to the purple-snail (Aristot. Hist. an. 546b-547b), but the most important ancient description of the creature and the manufacture of the dye is found in Pliny (Plin. HN 9,124-138). It is likely that the technique of obtaining dye from sea-snails was first developed by the Phoenicians. In…

Pigmentarius

(105 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] Derived from  pigmentum ('pigment'; cf. Plin. HN 33,111; 33,115; 33,158; 35,29; 37,81), the Latin word pigmentarius is the term for producers of and traders in pigments, ointments and perfumes ( unguenta). Representatives of this group are mentioned in Cicero and in inscriptions (Cic. Fam. 15,17,2; ILS 7604; 7605; CIL VI 9795). The workshop and store of a pigmentarius may be depicted in the house of the Vettii in Pompeii  [2. pl. XV 1]. The selling of poisons or love potions by a pigmentarius was punishable (Dig. 48,8,3,3; cf. Pharmakeía ). Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) Bi…

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…

Steel

(153 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] Modern term for alloys of iron with a carbon content of up to two per cent. In the blast-furnace process, however, the iron extracted has a much higher carbon content, which has to be reduced by means of a technical procedure (refining). In Antiquity there was an entirely different technical problem: Crude iron, the product of the smelting process, had only an extremely limited carbon content and was therefore relatively soft. The iron was therefore tempered by further forging in …

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…

Materialism

(955 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The concept of materialism does not appear until the first half of the eighteenth century, and is first used polemically in the context of the criticism of materialist thought in Enlightenment philosophy, as antithesis of idealism or spiritualism (Kant). Here, only those teachings will be designated as materialism which (a) represent a monism which holds that all being can be reduced to one or more material principles, while (b) that which appears to be non-material is either an e…

Drainage

(646 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] The meagre productivity of ancient agriculture rendered the effective use and cultivation of any suitable land imperative for growing grain, viticulture, and planting olive trees. Hills and mountain slopes in Greece were prepared for cultivation through terracing, and drainage measures were used to gain virgin land or to protect land from flooding after the winter rains. The requirements were different in Greece and Italy: in the Greek interior, there are fairly large plains in which lakes are formed by surface inflow; run-off is often subsurface ( katavothra) and …

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…
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