Machines in Roman ports’ activities
Recently, I have participated to an international conference about the Vitruvius’ machines (http://vitruve.hypotheses.org/), organised by the University of Caen (France) which specialises in the study of scientific texts, technics and Vitruvius. The researchers from Caen are also working on the 3D reconstruction of machines from antiquity. Through this conference, they proposed an interdisciplinary meeting to discuss recent research on Roman engineering.
In my paper, I presented the machines which are used for port activities from an iconographic and epigraphic approach. The first part of my research was focused on lifting machines used to load or unload merchandise from ships, like cranes. Indeed, the use of cranes in the port are confirmed by iconography such as the graffiti discovered in Ostia or by the recent discoveries in Narbonne’s port. The second part was related to machines used to measure and control the weight of cargo in the port, such as the balances which are confirmed by the mosaic from Sousse or by the glass vase from Prague which illustrates the Ripa Puteolana and mentions the existence of a sacomarium next to the emporium of Puteoli.