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Vacuum

(379 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] Pre-Platonic thinkers, such as the Pythagoreans (Pythagorean School) or Anaxagoras [2] had a concept of an empty “space” (τὸ κενόν/ tò kenón). The examination of this view led Aristotle (Aristoteles [6]) to the conclusion that no such 'void' could exist. His argument reveals that Anaxagoras had undertaken experiments to study phenomena of air. For Aristotle, Anaxagoras' demonstrations show that air is a form of matter (ὅτι ἔστι τι ὁ ἀήρ/ hóti ésti ti ho aḗr: Aristot. Ph. 213a-214b). In the 3rd cent. BC, Ctesibius [1] constructed apparatuses which made use o…

Bücher-Meyer controversy

(2,128 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) [German version] A. Introduction (CT) The debate that went on between 1893 and 1902 over the basic features of the economy in Classical Antiquity is referred to in more recent scholarly historical literature, both in Ancient History as well as the history of the discipline, as the Bücher-Meyer Controversy (BMC). The origin of this discussion was the publication in 1893 of a book entitled Die Entstehung der Volkswirtschaft  (‘Industrial Evolution, 1907) by the economist Karl Bücher promulgating the view that a dominance of a home economy…

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…

Barrels (wooden)

(229 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] While in the Mediterranean, liquids such as wine and oil were generally stored in large clay jars (ίθος, dolium) and transported in animal skins or amphorae, we find the increasing use of wooden barrels for the storing and transporting of wine in the western provinces and northern Italy from the early Principate onwards (Upper Italy: Str. 5,1,8; 5,1,12; Alps: Plin. HN 14,132). Numerous reliefs and funerary sculptures show wine barrels being transported on heavy, horse-drawn wagons (funerary reliefs in Langres and Augsburg), or oar-driven shi…

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…

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…

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…

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 …

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 …

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…

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…
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