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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Social politics

(938 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] In modern industrial societies, the function of SP is to set up systems to prevent the occurrence of cases of hardship, and to protect individual citizens and groups of citizens from defined risks. A vital instrument of SP is social insurance, of the kind created in the German Empire between 1883 and 1889 (health insurance, accident insurance, old-age insurance); unemployment insurance followed during the Weimar Republic. Since that time, the actual concern in SP has been, on the …

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…

Biton

(285 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] (Bíτων; Bítōn). Author of a short work on catapults and siege equipment; named in Athenaeus (14,634); the work is dedicated to a King Attalus and was therefore composed between about 230 BC (when Attalus I assumed the title of king) and 133 BC (death of Attalus III). As B. mentions older types of catapults but not the torsion catapult that was otherwise well attested from the end of the 4th cent. BC, the work probably belongs to the early years of the reign of Attalus I. B. describes two catapults that could hurl stones weighing from c. 2 kg to 18 kg, a mobile siege tower ( helépol…

Rigging

(287 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] From the Archaic Period on, Greek trading ships were no longer propelled by oarsmen but had a large sail attached to a yard (ἐπίκριον/ epíkrion; Lat. antemna/ antenna), allowing them to use wind power. Even the long warships had a mast with a yardsail; as these ships, however, had to be used regardless of wind conditions and in naval battles required great manoeuvrability, oarsmen could not be dispensed with; they used the sail on longer journeys in favourable wind. Greek warships in the 5th-4th cents. BC not only had the big sails (μεγάλα ἱστία/ megála histía; Xen. Hell. 1…

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…

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…

Purpur

(548 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[English version] (πορφύρα/ porphýra; lat. purpur) war ein in der Ant. für die Herstellung kostbarer Stoffe und Gewänder verwendeter Farbstoff (Färberei), der aus verschiedenen, im Mittelmeer lebenden Schneckenarten (Schnecke) gewonnen wurde; Aristoteles hat der P.-Schnecke lange Ausführungen gewidmet (Aristot. hist. an. 546b-547b); die wichtigste ant. Beschreibung der P.-Schnecken und der Herstellung des Farbstoffes findet sich bei Plinius (Plin. nat. 9,124-138). Wahrscheinlich ist das Verfahren, aus den Meeresschnecken Farbstoff zu gewinnen, zuerst von…

Elfenbein

(192 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[English version] (ἐλέφας, lat. ebur) wurde aus den Stoßzähnen afrikan. und indischer Elefanten gewonnen und gehört wie Seide, Bernstein, Weihrauch und Pfeffer zu jenen kostbaren Gütern, die aus Gebieten außerhalb des Imperium Romanum importiert werden mußten; nach Plinius war E. das wertvollste Material, das Landtiere lieferten (Plin. nat. 37,204). Der Preis für E. war im 1.Jh. n.Chr. außerordentlich hoch; dennoch bestand ein Mangel an E., so daß man begann, auch die gewöhnlichen Knochen des Elef…

Bücher-Meyer-Kontroverse

(1,856 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) RWG
Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) RWG [English version] A. Einleitung (RWG) Als Bücher-Meyer-Kontroverse (BMK) wird in der neueren alt-histor. und wiss.-geschichtlichen Lit. die zw. 1893 und 1902 geführte Debatte über die grundlegenden Merkmale der ant. Wirtschaft bezeichnet. Ausgangspunkt dieser Diskussion war die 1893 erschienene Schrift Die Entstehung der Volkswirtschaft des Ökonomen Karl Bücher, der die Auffassung vertrat, für die Ant. sei eine Dominanz der Hauswirtschaft charakteristisch gewesen. Auf der dritten Versammlung dt. Historiker in…

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…

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 …
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