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News about Ancient Technology
#1
Time to have a thread of its own for news in the history of ancient technology. Anything related to this topic can be posted here. Let me start with this:

The exposition Das Goldene Byzanz in Austria features a reconstruction of the 7th century stone saw mill excavated at Ephesos (see here for more background info on this mill type).

The mill site was excavated by the Österreichisches Archäologisches Institut. The main publication is to the best of my knowledge: Mangartz, Fritz (2010): (in German), Die byzantinische Steinsäge von Ephesos. Baubefund, Rekonstruktion, Architekturteile, Monographs of the RGZM, 86, Mainz: Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, ISBN 978-3-88467-149-8
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#2
Stefan.
I have just been looking at the drawing showing the Hierapolis sawmill and the toothed gear wheel reminded me of a similar type of object that is displayed at Chesters museum on Hadrian's Wall.
The piece at Chesters is indeed made of stone and has holes set all around its diameter (similar to a ships capstain) that would have taken wooden posts, or maybe Paddles to drive it however it was found on the eastern bridge abutment but in the book "Bridges of the Tyne" by Bidwell and Holbrook it is refered I think to being a counter weight for a crane used to build the abutment which I found to be rediculous.
This piece of stone is displayed in a small gallery at the museum however in the main gallery there is a large stone cup over 60cm diameter that this particular stone would fit into as a corn grinder, and it should be pointed out that there was a water mill that operated in the tower of the east bridge abutment.
The late Raymond Selkirk like myself always considered this to be part of a more massive water engineering situation at Chesters, indeed where the supposed crane for building the abutment was situated would have made a better off loading point for Roman river barges that did in fact sail up the river Tyne to supply the wall forts and elsewhere.
Brian Stobbs
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#3
Quote:The piece at Chesters is indeed made of stone and has holes set all around its diameter (similar to a ships capstain) that would have taken wooden posts...

Difficult to imagine this stone piece as part of an ancient sawmill, because these mills were made completely out of wood and did not have a rotating millstone like grain mills do. The only stone objects of sawmills were the slabs to be cut into sheets. This lists knows of a conventional watermill at Chesters with extant "mill-race, mill-chamber, tail-race, millstones". Could it be that the Chesters piece was part of this mill (but then again the lateral holes still are out of place)?

Quote:...it should be pointed out that there was a water mill that operated in the tower of the east bridge abutment.

That sounds interesting. To date, the installation of watermills on or in bridges are an innovation usually ascribed to the Muslim period. I would like to follow this up, what is your exact source? :-)
Stefan (Literary references to the discussed topics are always appreciated.)
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#4
Not sure what the definition of a water mill is but I helped to re-build the one at the Ancient Technology Centre in Dorset (donated by the Museum of London) and I have also researched the water moving system in and around the gold mine at Dolaucothi.

http://www.ancienttechnologycentre.co.uk...fting.html

These are very solid, large wooden structures capable of moving an awe inspiring amount of water but all human powered.

The design of the water wheel demonstrated in the link was adapted by the mine workers and the "buckets" were made narrower but longer to cope with the restricted area they were dealing with down mine shafts. This was essentially a system for pumping flood water out of the mine, but they also had a system of gathering a vast amount of water into tanks to allow the mining process ("hushing") to work.

Fascinating subject...
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#5
Had always wondered where that machine had ended up.
Phil
pmel018
Philip melhop
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#6
Quote:Had always wondered where that machine had ended up.
Phil

It's being put to good use! Great for open days and "punish detail" for recalcitrant children (and adults too for that matter :mrgreen: )
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#7
Stefan.

I now don't have my copy of Bridges of the Tyne by Bidwell and Holbrook so cannot give details of it, however it is an English Heritage publication.
There is also mention in this book about the mill leet that travels down the east bank of the river North Tyne that supplied the water for the mill in the bridge tower.
It also gives suggestion that a weir on the river would have given the water supply, however the leet is much higher than one would think such a weir could give.
It was of course suggested by the late Raymond Selkirk that the very high mill leet could have been supplied by the 3rd-4th century river dam a few hundred meters above the Roman bridge at Chesters.
Brian Stobbs
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#8
Watermills!

This is the man for Roman watermills- Prof Andrew Wilson of Oxford University ( and a very good lecturer as well) though very busy.

His details are here with loads of references and existing projects http://users.ox.ac.uk/~corp0057/

A lot of the research is linked to the Roman Economy project - here http://oxrep.classics.ox.ac.uk/

A specific essay is attached below, though a lot more research has happened since 2007.

Its on the Roman Economy site, under working papers.

The uptake of mechanical technology in the ancient world: the water-mill

By Andrew Wilson
28-02-2007
The water-mill is one of the earliest examples of human efforts to harness natural forces to do mechanical work, and stands as the ancestor of a long line of machines. Water-milling greatly increased per capita productivity in the time-consuming and widely needed grinding of grain into flour, and enabled greater specialisation in labour, with the water-miller (molendinarius) emerging as a separate figure from the miller-baker (pistor) of the earlier Roman period. The spread and uptake of the water-mill is therefore important to questions of economic development and the relationship of capital investment in technology to economic growth (Wilson 2002).

In 1984 Örjan Wikander published a brief but important landmark study which overturned the commonly-accepted idea that although the ancient world knew the water-mill, it was not until the early middle ages that its use became common (Wikander 1984). He showed that the large number of references to early medieval water-mills in surviving documents is a function of the nature of our sources. Much surviving Greco-Roman literature is epic, didactic or elegiac poetry, narrative history, tragedy or philosophy, none of which is likely to spend much time discussing water-mills. The bulk of the references we do have come from scientific, technical or encyclopaedic writings, which are comparatively rare. The massive increase in the rate of references to water-mills in written documents of the fourth and fifth centuries AD coincides with the introduction of new genres of writing – legal codes, hagiography, and monastic charters, all of which are much more likely to refer to such relatively mundane devices. By contrast, the bulk of the archaeological material known in 1984 came from the second and third centuries AD, when no literary sources refer to water-mills at all – a reflection of the relatively small number of texts that have survived from this period. Two conclusions follow from the different pictures presented by the documentary and archaeological sources. First, the documentary sources cannot by themselves provide a guide to the relative frequency over time of the use of water-power. Secondly, the large number of documentary references to water-mills in the early middle ages, a time when the archaeological record is sparse, indicate that the archaeologically identified record must represent only a very small fraction of the original total.



In the 22 years since Wikander’s publication, our knowledge of ancient water-mills has increased dramatically, not least due to the efforts of Wikander himself (Wikander 1985; 2000; Lewis 1997; Brun and Borréani 1998; Wilson 2002).



Sources: Wikander 1980; Wikander 1985; Wikander 2000; present study.

Some earlier written evidence dating back to the third century BC has now been identified (Lewis 1997), but while otherwise the number of known literary sources and iconographic representations remains similar, the numerous archaeological discoveries have changed the picture. The number of archaeologically known sites has increased threefold. The second- and third-century AD peak is now much more pronounced, with appreciable numbers of water-mills now apparent also in the first and fourth centuries AD. The slight rise in the seventh century is principally due to a number of discoveries of wooden tidal mills in Ireland.



The archaeological evidence offers the best potential for assessing the comparative use of water-power over time, as it is the category least affected by biases in the evidence. But an analysis on the basis of archaeological data makes the assumption that archaeological evidence for water-mills is equally likely to survive from any period, an assumption which requires some scrutiny. On the one hand, water-mills are vulnerable to erosion by changing water-courses, which stacks the odds more heavily against older sites. In other words, the survival of Roman sites may carry a greater relative value than the survival of medieval sites. The materials in which a mill was constructed may have a bearing on survival or identification rates, and initially one might wonder if the Roman propensity to build in stone might lead to a correspondingly greater identification of Roman sites over wooden early medieval ones. However, a large number of known Roman water-mills in northern Europe are also made of wood, and in any case, mills may also be identified on the basis of finds of mill-stones. On balance, it seems that the Roman material is not overrepresented in the archaeological record, and the peak in the Roman period is real. Indeed, it is actually more pronounced than the graph at first sight suggests, as the six sites in the right-hand column, dated no more closely than the ‘Roman’ period, need to be distributed across the columns for the first–fourth centuries AD. If evenly distributed, they would further accentuate the Roman-period peak, but all the more so for the second and third centuries if they were distributed in proportion to the pattern already suggested by the graph, in a near-normal distribution.



The much greater number per century of Roman water-mills than early medieval ones appears to indicate a more intense and widespread usage of the technology in the Roman period (first to fourth centuries AD) by comparison with the early medieval period (fifth to ninth centuries AD). This is an important claim to make; it suggests that the Roman uptake of mechanical technology for productive ends was considerable already during the first century AD, and its use in the second and third centuries could, in part, reflect patterns of per capita growth. The drop in numbers after the third century appears broadly consistent with other indices (building inscriptions, salting vat capacities) analysed by the project.

Source data compiled from: Amouric et al. 2000; Barker et al . 1999; Brun and Borréani 1998; Castella 1994; Czysz 1994; Johannowksy 1994; Oleson 1984; Roos 1992; Saarisalo 1927, 79 f.; Trovò 1996; Wikander 1985; Wilson 1995; 2002.

The full dataset will be made available online towards the end of the OXREP project.

References
Amouric, H., Thernot, R., Vacca-Goutouli, M. and Bruneton, H. (2000) Un moulin à turbine de la fin de l'Antiquité, - La Calade du Castellet (Fontvieille). In P. Leveau and J.-P. Saquet (eds) Milieu et sociétés dans la vallée des Baux. Études présentées au colloque de Mouriès. Revue Archéologique de la Narbonnaise, supplément 31: 261-73. Montpellier, Éditions de l'Association de la Revue Archéologique de Narbonnaise.

Barker, G. W., Adams, R., Creighton, O. H., Gilbertson, D. D., Grattan, J. P., Hunt, C. O., Mattingly, D. J., McLaren, S. J., Mohamed, H. A., Newson, P., Reynolds, T. E. G. and Thomas, D. C. (1999) Environment and Land Use in the Wadi Faynan, Southern Jordan: the Third Season of Geoarchaeology and Landscape Archaeology (1998). Levant 31: 255-92.

Brun, J.-P. and Borréani, M. (1998) "Deux moulins hydrauliques du Haut Empire romain en Narbonnaise. Villae des Mesclans à La Crau et de Saint-Pierre/Les Laurons aux Arcs (Var)," Gallia 55: 279-326.

Castella, D. (1994) (ed.) Le moulin hydraulique gallo-romain d'Avenche *en Chaplix . Aventicium 6. Lausanne.

Czysz, W. (1994) Eine bajuwarische Wassermühle im Paartal bei Dasing. Antike Welt. Zeitschrift für Archäologie und Kulturgeschichte 25: 152-4.

Lewis, M. J. T. (1997) Millstone and hammer: the origins of water power. Hull.

Johannowsky, W. (1994) Canali e fiumi per il trasporto del grano. In Le ravitaillement en blé de Rome: 159-63,Abb. Naples, D'Auria (diffusion).

Oleson, J. P. (1984) A Roman water-mill on the Crocodilion river near Caesarea. Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 100: 137-52.

Roos, P. (1992) A water-mill at the Lamas River. In IX. Arastirma Sonuçlari Toplantisi. 27-31 Mayis 1991, Çanakkale: 1-8. Ankara, T. C. Kültür Bakanligi.

Saarisalo, A. (1927) The boundary between Issachar and Naphtali. An archaeological and literary study of Israel's settlement in Canaan. Helsinki.

Trovò, R. (1996) Canalizzazioni lignee e ruota idraulica di età romana ad Oderzo (Treviso). Quaderni di archeologia del Veneto 12: 119-34.

Wikander, Ö. (1980) Vattenmöllor och möllare i det romerska riket. Lund.

Wikander, Ö. (1984) Exploitation of water-power or technological stagnation? A reappraisal of the productive forces in the Roman Empire, Studier utgivna av Kungl. Humanistiska Vetenskapssamfundet i Lund, 1983-1984, 3 (Lund).

Wikander, Ö. (1985) "Archaeological evidence for early water-mills - an interim report," History of Technology 10: 151-79.

Wikander, Ö. (2000) "The water-mill," in Ö. Wikander (ed.), Handbook of Ancient Water Technology, Technology and Change in History 2. Leiden, 371-400.

Wilson, A. I. (1995) Water-power in North Africa and the development of the horizontal water-wheel. Journal of Roman Archaeology 8: 499-510.

Wilson, A. I. (2002) "Machines, power and the ancient economy," Journal of Roman Studies 92: 1-32.
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aka Paul B, moderator
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#9
Another big site is at Barbegal - details here http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/barbegal/

"The concept was simple, but the application is impressive. Barbegal was an immense flour mill, dating from the 4th century A.D. The power to drive the millstones came from 16 waterwheels, arranged in two parallel rows of eight. Each row ran downhill so that the water dropped from one wheel to the next, driving all eight in turn before running into a drain at the foot of the hill."

I think this is dead impressive.....


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aka Paul B, moderator
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#10
Quote:The concept was simple, but the application is impressive.
Brilliant. Now give me a 100 million and I would...
Robert Vermaat
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FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#11
When you start to look at the engineering used particularly for water management the scale can certainly be awesome.

Similar to Caballo's example, the leats at Dolaucothi, Wales (Luentinum) are thought to have brought water from natural mountain resources from 5km just to enable the mining of the gold. The scale of that operation and the methods using water to clear the ground has changed the landscape to such an extent you can still see the effects today. It's a fascinating place.

As far as I am concerned this mine and all the others in the South West of Britain probably has a considerable influence on the movements of the Second Augusta Legion. You would need that amount of man power and specialist knowledge to achieve these impressive engineering feats.
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#12
And there is research going on to try and establish whether water powered hammers (as in place in Austro-Hungary before WW1) were used to shape metal......mechanised armour production?
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aka Paul B, moderator
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#13
The idea of shaping metal in armour making is an idea that a RAT member Tony Drake and I have both thought may have taken place in helmet bowl production.
It could even have been a more simple way by drop forging helmet bowls with a pile driver situation as the Romans used for driving the verticle stakes into a river when bridge building.
Brian Stobbs
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#14
There was also a better use of water power where the Romans would carry out the logistical supply of their forts and other establishments with dams and pound locks on rivers.
Indeed when we look at the majority of forts and towns we find they are very near to waterways and would have been supplied by barges.

The late Raymond Selkirk did prove that the forts on Hadrian's Wall and beyond were supplied in this fashion, in fact he even proved that a major part of one such Roman Dam and its pound lock is still here today on the river Tyne at Bywell where he also proved by excavation that the Roman Dere Street crossed the river at Bywell and did not go through Corbridge at all.
Indeed he also showed that these Roman Dams were mostly up stream of the river brides where they were, which is a practical situation for the dam to take the flow pressure off the bridge.
It becomes so obvious when we find that a regiment at Arbeia near the mouth of the river Tyne were the Bacari Tigrinensis, with also another group similar at the Solway end of the wall that would sail barges up the Eden and Irthing rivers to supply the western end of the Wall.
Brian Stobbs
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#15
Brian

Was it Raymond Selkirk who proposed the canal from Catterick down the North East Coast as far as the Fens? An inshore water way to avoid the very dangerous coastal waters off the east coast of England.

I can't for the life of me remember where I heard this. It was in a lecture/talk a long time ago in Newcastle...possibly by Julian Bennett?
Moi Watson

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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