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Roman "technological" tools
#1
Hi guys,
every time I look at a work of Roman craftsmanship i am stunned, especially small precision work.
A few days ago I could see some works of Roman jewelry in Museum that I find it hard to imagine in roman time.
Every time that I build a replica I think this thing.
Techniques such as jewelry, coinmaking, cornelian...and much more.
But what tools available to the Romans to do objects so small and so perfect? What magnification systems for working so small? What specific equipment? Does anyone have information and photos of special tools? I'm very curious. You know a specific book on this subject?
I hope you understand my English :?
CIAO from Italy

Marco
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#2
Quote:Hi guys,
every time I look at a work of Roman craftsmanship i am stunned, especially small precision work.
A few days ago I could see some works of Roman jewelry in Museum that I find it hard to imagine in roman time.
Every time that I build a replica I think this thing.
Techniques such as jewelry, coinmaking, cornelian...and much more.
But what tools available to the Romans to do objects so small and so perfect? What magnification systems for working so small? What specific equipment? Does anyone have information and photos of special tools? I'm very curious. You know a specific book on this subject?
I hope you understand my English :?

I think apart from tools you shouldn't underestimate human possibilities. It sounds crude, but when you let children do this kind of stuff (which was the custom in Roman times, in my opinion), they can achieve much. They have small and precise fingers and can really adopt their sight to small areas. (okay, don't talk about the bad effects of looking to those small objects for hours and hours).

Even today there are some craftsman in the world who do unbelievable jobs, without modern tooling. It is possible, but you really need to learn the craft and best do it from your young childhood onwards.
________________________________________
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
ALA I BATAVORUM
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#3
The art of the beaded Etruscan bronze jewelry was lost even by Augustan times, at which time there was a great fad for it. Getting the thousands of tiny "shot" onto the curved surface of the bronze and then soldering it in place took unbelievable precision and delicacy. According to the Romans, it had to be done by children under the age of twelve. No need to tbe shocked. I've been in carpet shops in Cairo where children no older were doing the hand-weaving and knot-tying.
Pecunia non olet
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#4
I totally agree with both, I'm increasingly convinced that ancient artists were much better than modern humans, and they knew better their job. The example of Etruscan jewelry is perfect, their can put up to 800 grains in one square centimeter!
I did not know that children used to do these jobs, but even if they had a perfect view I suppose that at least a magnification system knew about, or not?
Perhaps being small men had a view much more developed than ours?
CIAO from Italy

Marco
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#5
A couple months ago I noticed some information about this in Pliny, which I posted in a thread about gem carving.
David J. Cord
http://www.davidcord.com
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#6
David I have just read your thread about gem carving and recently I just made a Silver ring for the farmer who allows me to metal detect on his land.
I put into the ring a Cornelian intaglio that I found on one of his fields that had four stalks of corn finely angraved into it, being a farmer who grows great quantities of wheat I considered he was the one who should have it.

In reading about heating of tools it did make me think that maybe Cornelian being a variety of Chalcedony can be better worked with a hot tool, and also for the fine detail of many intaglios I have found I become more than ever convinced these workers had some form of magnification for even a small child looking thro' the bottom of a glass reaches this conclusion.
Brian Stobbs
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#7
How interesting, looks like according to Pliny the art of miniscule gem-making was alive and well during the Romans' day:

Quote:When, by good fortune, this stone [adamas] does happen to be broken, it divides into fragments so minute as to be almost imperceptible. These particles are held in great request by engravers, who enclose them in iron, and are enabled thereby, with the greatest facility, to cut the very hardest substances known.

Pliny, Natural History 37.15


Can someone post pictures of this kind of miniscule engraving? I'd love to see it.
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#8
Quote:How interesting, looks like according to Pliny the art of miniscule gem-making was alive and well during the Romans' day:

Quote:When, by good fortune, this stone [adamas] does happen to be broken, it divides into fragments so minute as to be almost imperceptible. These particles are held in great request by engravers, who enclose them in iron, and are enabled thereby, with the greatest facility, to cut the very hardest substances known.

Pliny, Natural History 37.15


Can someone post pictures of this kind of miniscule engraving? I'd love to see it.

Just a random picture (along the first hits on google searching for roman cabochons)
[Image: gem_cutting_cabochon_roman.jpeg]
________________________________________
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
ALA I BATAVORUM
Reply
#9
Hi guys,
very interesting the "gem carving " post, thanks.
Time ago I read that the Romans could do a lot of work with diamond dust applied on a common iron. They knew a lot of tools and probably many were lost, but I think they need a magnifying glass. What knowledge they had about this? They worked very well on glass, but could make a very good lens?
CIAO from Italy

Marco
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#10
Quote:Just a random picture (along the first hits on google searching for roman cabochons)
[Image: gem_cutting_cabochon_roman.jpeg]
Right, I've seen these gems before; but it looks like the Etruscan gems referenced above (and seemingly mentioned by Pliny) are something different: a set of microscopic gems inset into a larger precious metal. That sounded very unique and/or unusual to me as I haven't seen it in any museums yet.
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#11
Quote:Hi guys,
very interesting the "gem carving " post, thanks.
Time ago I read that the Romans could do a lot of work with diamond dust applied on a common iron. They knew a lot of tools and probably many were lost, but I think they need a magnifying glass. What knowledge they had about this? They worked very well on glass, but could make a very good lens?

As far as I know magnifying glass was first introduced in the arabic world in the 7th century, but I'm not sure about that. At least I know about no reference to anything like in in Roman sources. But as I said, a trained eye (from a child) can do a wonderfull job.
________________________________________
Jvrjenivs Peregrinvs Magnvs / FEBRVARIVS
A.K.A. Jurjen Draaisma
CORBVLO and Fectio
ALA I BATAVORUM
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#12
Now I understand that little fingers can create masterpieces!
CIAO from Italy

Marco
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