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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…

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 the Augustan period, Tyre (Tyrus) was the centre of purple-dyeing, and the city's wealth was said to depend in large measure on that industry (Str. 16,2,23). There were purple-dyeries in many coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean in the Roman period. Purple could be used to achieve various hues, of which dark red and violet were probably the most highly prized. Pliny names two species of snail most widely used for obtaining purple - Murex buccinum and Murex purpura/pelagia

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)

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)

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 scholarly introductions …

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 als…

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)

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 t…
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