This article tries to illustrate an idea of the range of extant ancient textual sources for engineering and technology. It also presents a broad outline of how the production of texts dealing specifically with technical matters changed in the course of antiquity. In order to combine the two aims, it proceeds chronologically, focusing on two or three examples from each period, chosen to represent both different types of textual evidence and the technological practice of the period in question. The status of technology in classical Athens is first discussed. Additionally, the technical texts from Hellenistic kingdoms are described. It is stated that the technical texts from the Roman Empire have to be seen not only as providing information, but also as constructing a certain way of knowledge, and a certain identity for their authors. The technical texts from antiquity are then addressed.
Archaeozoological research provides impressive, long-neglected evidence for the technical sophistication and productivity of Greco-Roman animal husbandry. A case can be made that the classical and Hellenistic Greeks should be credited for many of the critical innovations in animal husbandry, game-farming, and both fishing and fish-farming. The Greeks and Romans also developed sophisticated new techniques to improve the capture, farming, or fattening of a large range of game, wild birds, and fish. The innovations in Greco-Roman animal husbandry can be broken down into four main areas: breeding, nutrition, housing, and health and veterinary care. Moreover, the economic function of ancient hunting as a source of meat and secondary products is covered. The Greeks and Romans put considerable effort into enhancing and even managing their fish stocks. It is noted that shellfish figured prominently in the Greco-Roman diet.
Mark Jackson and Kevin Greene
Applying the labels “Greek” and “Roman” to the study of ceramic technology from 700
The Arsacids were the ruling dynasty of Parthia between the middle of the third century
The Lydian coinage system completely changed with an ingenious coin reform. With Alyattes's electrum coinage, the recipient had no way of judging the gold or silver content. Therefore, Croesus replaced the electrum coins with pure gold and silver, and changed the lion head design to that of the confronted foreparts of a lion and a bull. The Croesus stater was one of the most popular coins among the Greeks, since they did not strike any gold and because, due to its high value, it was chosen in particular for public and private savings. Darius's introduction of a Persian imperial coinage in Asia Minor was a pathbreaking financial reorganization and an important contribution to the further consolidation of the Achaemenid Empire in the west. Money supply and circulation within the Persian Empire reached an enormous level under Artaxerxes III, indicating an extraordinary prosperity-based economy and trade in the empire.
Catharine C. Lorber
The coinage of the Ptolemies stands apart from other royal Hellenistic currencies in interesting respects, including the prominence of gold and bronze coins vis-à-vis silver and the role of coin types in promoting royal cult. The Ptolemies have also been credited with a policy of controlling monetary supply to maintain price stability in the chôra (countryside). The reforms of Ptolemies by definition expanded the monetary supply. While the immediate purpose of the first weight reduction was to finance particular royal objectives, ultimately the reforms served to support the growth of the court, the administration, and Greek-style capitalism. The vast library of surviving papyri and ostraka includes many financial documents that shed light on an evolving and unusually complex currency system, and on its role in the Egyptian economy.
This article explores imperial coinage and provincial coinage during Roman provinces. The latter was produced at different levels (and eventually even at Rome), but was on the whole intended to take over for the state regionally. Some coins actually did not carry the image of the emperor or a member of the imperial family. Coins without an imperial portrait were struck at Rome, and nobody ever imagined any sort of pseudo-autonomy for these strikings. From Augustus to Hadrian, other administrative changes took place, in Anatolia in particular, but had no impact on the production of provincial coins, which was not the same in the west and the east. It ceased rapidly in the west. Civic coinages were produced in Spain, Africa, and Sicily under Augustus, only to decline very quickly. In the east, however, local coinage endured until the time of Tacitus.
Carlos F. Noreña
This article studies how Roman coinage served as a communication medium in the Roman world. The term “Roman coinage” refers to all coins that were minted in areas under the administrative control of the Roman Empire. It notes the two features that distinguished ancient coins from other types of money, namely their adherence to a standard, and the fact that they had designs that indicated a minting authority. The article also looks at the coinages produced under the authority of the central state, and those produced under the local authority in the Roman provinces. These coinages were called the “Roman imperial coinage” and the “Roman provincial coinage”.
Funeral practices were already well developed before the start of the Neolithic period. As the population increased with the growth of settlements, one would expect more graves. However, the number of excavated Neolithic burials can be counted in the hundreds, whereas tens of thousands of people lived and died in Greece between 7000 and 3000
Bernhard E. Woytek
The denarius coinage consisted, in the main, of four silver denominations, which were probably all introduced at the same time. The leading denomination, as well as its typologically identical halves and quarters, not only were produced from very pure silver but also bore a value mark in asses: this was another novelty that set the reformed silver coins apart from the didrachms (and their fractions) Rome had previously produced. The creation of the denarius coinage was one of the most influential monetary reforms ever carried out by the Romans: the denarius remained the standard silver denomination of their empire for about 450 years, and as a unit of account it was in use well into late antiquity. Furthermore, the tetrarchic argenteus, an important precursor of various other Late Roman silver denominations, was modeled on the denarius, and this coin also provided inspiration for the penny coinages of the Middle Ages.
The state exercised great influence on the economic life of the Byzantine Empire throughout most of its history. It was solely responsible for the production, and putting into circulation, of coinage. It did this through its expenditure on the army and the administration, imperial largesse, and, in Constantinople especially, through lavish expenditure on building works. Resources flowed from the provinces to Constantinople through a comprehensive system of land taxation. Its other important resource was the imperial estates which were located throughout the empire and provided revenues to the emperor personally and to official bureaux. The capital was the most important centre of economic demand. The imperial court, aristocratic households, the patriarch, and large monastic houses generated a strong demand for luxury products. This created opportunities for a diverse range of merchants and craftsmen. This article discusses the economy of the Byzantine Empire, focusing on the strong upsurge in trade in the European provinces and the economic contrast between the European provinces and Asia Minor.
Today, the knowledge of the last phases of the Aegean Bronze Age can be based on a few but very important vertical settlement stratigraphies spanning most of the twelfth and eleventh centuries
Expanding Ethnoarchaeology: Historical Evidence and Model-Building in the Study of Technological Change
Michael B. Schiffer
This article suggests that an expanded ethnoarchaeology that exploits evidence from the historical records of both ancient and modern societies can become an important research strategy to obtain, refine, and evaluate general models and heuristics for investigating technological change. It then shows the vision of an expanded ethnoarchaeology by presenting models and heuristics derived from research on electrical technologies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The key framework that informs many behavioral models of technological change is the life history of artifacts and technologies. The article turns to three examples of an “expanded ethnoarchaeology”: technological differentiation, differential adoption, and the cascade model of invention processes. Working with historical materials as a historian, the researcher fashions explanatory narratives; working as an ethnoarchaeologist, that same researcher can build and evaluate models, theories, and heuristics of potentially widespread applicability.
This article treats some practical applications of the physical principles, for example water clocks, astronomical instruments, and hodometers. The so-called five simple machines were known and discussed by Greek engineers and scientists from at least the late third century
E. Marianne Stern
Glassmaking and glassworking coexisted as two separate crafts throughout antiquity. The division into primary workshops for making the glass and secondary workshops for working and shaping it affected not only the structure of the glass industry, but also early theories about the nature of glass. Glass is the earliest man-made, artificial material. In antiquity, the process of making glass from basic ingredients involved two or more stages, each requiring a different furnace. A salient difference between ancient and modern glassworking is the limited use of molten glass in antiquity. Colored and colorless glasses are described. It is suggested that several important discoveries regarding the properties of glass and the development of new glassworking techniques originated in Greece. Techniques for glass pottery include mold-pressing, double mold-pressing, rotary pressing, winding, sagging, tooling, and free shaping. Furthermore, a discussion on glassblowing tools and equipment, and mold-blowing is presented.
Evi Margaritis and Martin K. Jones
This article examines the nature of agriculture in the Mediterranean epicenter, considering the combination of arboriculture and arable agriculture typical of the region. It also reports the developments on the periphery of that world that led to a range of enduring innovations in agricultural technology. The evidence from texts and archaeology draws repeatedly on ethnographic observation of more recent small-scale Mediterranean agriculture. The importance of water management and irrigation on the cultivation of vines and olives in Greece and Rome is described. The dynamics of change through time owed much to the economic structures of the classical world. Some of the most enduring legacies of classical agriculture particularly extensive water management and the heavy plow, owe much to the interaction between agricultural technologies in the Mediterranean heartland of the classical world and long-standing practices in the geographical regions to which classical influence subsequently spread.
The earliest phase of the monetary phenomenon in Palestine (late sixth to early fifth centuries
Frederick A. Cooper
This article provides information on domestic and utilitarian architecture. The organization of this article intentionally follows the section topics typical of a modern engineering and construction book. It rests on the proposition that construction theory, especially the mechanics of building materials and aseismic design constituted the starting point for Greek architectural design. The aim is to show the existence of an ancient scientific approach through juxtaposition of the evidence for Greek practice with pertinent excerpts from contemporary engineering construction handbooks. The Greek architectural design, business, art, and the profession of Greek architecture are described. The Greek architect's treatment of peristyle and cella as two separate entities follows a logic consistent with the overall aseismic design of a building. The building materials in Greek engineering include lime-based substances, baked clay architectural units, iron, lead, bronze, stone, and wood. Furthermore, the article discusses the fire protection engineering in Greek architecture.
Philip de Souza
Evidence for the study of ancient Greek warfare is not distributed evenly across all periods. In the course of the eleventh, tenth, and ninth centuries
Andrew I. Wilson
This article discusses the considerable Greek and Roman expertise in hydraulic engineering. Wells were the earliest and simplest form of artificial water supply. Most domestic wells, and many public wells, were either circular or square, just large enough for the digger. Cisterns were developed as an alternative to wells. Cisterns of all kinds were waterproofed by the application of mortar linings. The development and spread of qanats shows the availability and use at an early date of complex and difficult engineering water schemes in communities outside the main civic centers. The public fountains and the public baths are also described. The level of hydraulic development achieved in the ancient world is one of the key reasons why the regions making up the Roman Empire saw a greater degree of urban settlement at that period than at any subsequent time before the eighteenth century.