As is common knowledge, the 5th century Christian basilica of St. Paul at Rome burnt in 1823, destroying its large marble and granite column shafts, of Roman age, which were replaced by new ones in the next twenty years, mainly from Italian quarries. Many archive documents provide useful evidence for traditional methods of lifting and sea transport of those columns, before invention of the new transport technologies in the late 19th century. In this paper I try to gather and compare this evidence with other documentary sources of historical age (for example, of machines used to lift marble blocks at the Luni port, near the marble quarries of Carrara in the 17th century, in association with special ships). My aim is to investigate the traditional technologies of lifting and sea transport of large stone blocks, for better understanding of the appreciation of time used for sea transport, the ways of charging and stewing large stone columns, the number of people engaged. In this way, some processes used in Roman Imperial period for lifting and transport of large columns by sea could be reconstructed with a more documented approach. It should be obviously dangerous to induce directly that traditional technologies used for lifting and transport of columns in 18th or 19th century were in use also in Roman Imperial age, but the study of such processes seems to help us to put in the right view our reconstruction related to ancient reality. The same happened with the reconstruction of ancient building processes seen under the light of traditional technologies and building processes.

Lifting and transport by sea of great stone columns: evidence of traditional methods used in 18th and 19th century building programs as a clue to reconstructing Roman marble transport processes

Paolo Barresi
2016

Abstract

As is common knowledge, the 5th century Christian basilica of St. Paul at Rome burnt in 1823, destroying its large marble and granite column shafts, of Roman age, which were replaced by new ones in the next twenty years, mainly from Italian quarries. Many archive documents provide useful evidence for traditional methods of lifting and sea transport of those columns, before invention of the new transport technologies in the late 19th century. In this paper I try to gather and compare this evidence with other documentary sources of historical age (for example, of machines used to lift marble blocks at the Luni port, near the marble quarries of Carrara in the 17th century, in association with special ships). My aim is to investigate the traditional technologies of lifting and sea transport of large stone blocks, for better understanding of the appreciation of time used for sea transport, the ways of charging and stewing large stone columns, the number of people engaged. In this way, some processes used in Roman Imperial period for lifting and transport of large columns by sea could be reconstructed with a more documented approach. It should be obviously dangerous to induce directly that traditional technologies used for lifting and transport of columns in 18th or 19th century were in use also in Roman Imperial age, but the study of such processes seems to help us to put in the right view our reconstruction related to ancient reality. The same happened with the reconstruction of ancient building processes seen under the light of traditional technologies and building processes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11387/128389
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