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date: 22 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article assesses the impact of innovation on Roman society. It starts from a critical engagement with past debate about technological progress, which over the past decades has been too strongly focused on economic growth, and a re-appreciation of the literary evidence for innovation, which points to a culture in which technological knowledge and invention were thought to matter. Then, it highlights two areas where the uptake of technology had a direct impact on everyday life: material culture, where the emergence of glass-blowing, a proliferation of metal-working, and innovation in pottery-production changed the nature and amount of artefacts by which people surrounded themselves, and construction, where building techniques using opus caementicium, arches and standardized building materials revolutionized urban and rural landscapes. A concluding discussion highlights the role of integration of the Mediterranean under Roman rule in making innovation possible, and the role of consumer demand in bringing it about.

Keywords: Innovation, Technology, Glass-Blowing, Roman Economy, Roman Architecture, Metal-working, Terra Sigillata, Roman construction technology, Standardization, Arch (construction)

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