Skip to comments.Roman ship had on-board fish tank: Hand-operated pump would have kept catch alive during long trips
Posted on 06/02/2011 5:41:41 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A Roman ship found with a lead pipe piercing its hull has mystified archaeologists. Italian researchers now suggest that the pipe was part of an ingenious pumping system, designed to feed on-board fish tanks with a continuous supply of oxygenated water. Their analysis has been published online in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology.
Historians have assumed that in ancient times fresh fish were eaten close to where they were caught, because without refrigeration they would have rotted during transportation. But if the latest theory is correct, Roman ships could have carried live fish to buyers across the Mediterranean Sea.
The wrecked ship, which dates from the second century AD, was discovered six miles off the coast of Grado in northeastern Italy, in 1986. It was recovered in pieces in 1999 and is now held in the Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Grado. A small trade ship around 16.5 metres long, the vessel was carrying hundreds of vase-like containers that held processed fish, including sardines and salted mackerel.
Carlo Beltrame, a marine archaeologist at the Ca' Foscari University of Venice in Italy, and his colleagues have been trying to make sense of one bizarre feature of the wreck: a lead pipe near the stern that ends in a hole through the hull. The surviving pipe is 1.3 metres long, and 7-10 centimetres in diameter.
The team concludes that the pipe must have been connected to a piston pump, in which a hand-operated lever moves pistons up and down inside a pair of pipes. One-way valves ensure that water is pushed from one reservoir into another. The Romans had access to such technology, although it hasn't been seen before on their ships, and the pump itself hasn't been recovered from the Grado wreck.
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
This lead tube is all that remains of what could have been a tank for transporting live fish.D. Gaddi / The Nautical Archaeology Society
Section of the ship with the hypothetical hydraulic system to fill the vivarium.S. Parizzi / The Nautical Archaeology Society
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Hey, it is how we do crab fishing.
After passengers used the toilet, this pipe was used to pump the 0bama overboard.
The hull of the Grado Roman shipwreck in situ. The second-century ship spanned some 55 feet and held hundreds of amphoras containing fish products.
The Greeks and Romans we are finding out were much more advanced than thought, even for those societies. A couple of small twists in history and we would have had the industrial revolution about 1500 years earlier.
It was probably one of my ancestors running the pump - Uncle Flushie.
All the Roman Empire needed was a banking system, a postal system, and universal compulsory education, and they’d be running Europe and the Mediterranean basin to this day. :’)
Those interested can find more on FR, look for the Nemi Ship of Caligula, or Tamil Trade — either topic has more links.
Looks like a ballast pump to me.
It was near the spine because the ballast tank was near the spine for balance.
Lowers the draft when the ship is empty.
When the ship is laden with cargo, they pump out the water.
That would be more revolutionary of a discovery, imho.
I’m left asking why wouldn’t something like this have been done and much earlier than AD? I’d think that people would have been trying to keep the fish fresh and in seawater would have been the way.
“All the Roman Empire needed was a banking system, a postal system, and universal compulsory education, . . . “
A property recordation system and a court system that impartially enforced contracts would be a must also. Universal education, probably not so much. The US was the already the most powerful country in the world by the beginning of the 20th century—before universal compulsory education in the US.
Between the Western, Eastern, and Holy Roman empires, Roman culture and it’s offspring have succeeded in dominating most of the last 2000 years of European history.
What’s there today is basically the embers of Rome. The only reason they are starting to move beyond that is because the third wave of the Caliphate is upon them, and by their own hand to boot.
Wouldn’t the lead pipe leach lead poison and contaminate the fish?
Wouldn’t the lead pipe leach lead poison and contaminate the fish?
And the Mad Romans also used it for drinking water pipe.
How about that?
The Romans used lead pipe for hundreds of years and it's thought that rapid calcium carbonate build-up inside the pipes protected them from too much exposure.
They were apparently aware that there was some danger in lead by the time of the 1st emperor Augustus when Vitruvius wrote:
"Water conducted through earthen pipes is more wholesome than that through lead; indeed that conveyed in lead must be injurious, because from it white lead is obtained, and this is said to be injurious to the human system. Hence, if what is generated from it is pernicious, there can be no doubt that itself cannot be a wholesome body. This may be verified by observing the workers in lead, who are of a pallid colour; for in casting lead, the fumes from it fixing on the different members, and daily burning them, destroy the vigour of the blood; water should therefore on no account be conducted in leaden pipes if we are desirous that it should be wholesome."
I guess they got a special dispensation to use a salt water flush...
like depositing water contaminated salt into the ocean.
I wouldn't do it on any boat.
Okay, ship's carpenters out there: would you consider putting hole through the keel?
:’) There was a claim in the 1970s (maybe earlier, I don’t think I’ve ever looked into it) that the Roman Empire fell because they used lead pipes and all got lead poisoning, lost fertility, and went extinct basically. There’s hardly ever been a more clear-cut case of the political seduction of the sciences.
It’s true that federal laws about it didn’t come about until 1918, but parts of what is now the US has had universal compulsory education in some form since the 17th c at least, in the form of parochial schools attached to religious sects. Massachusetts systematized it a statewide basis in 1852, but most people had some kind of 3-r’s before that, even if it was taught at home. Rural one-room schools were around here in Michigan as soon as European-descent pioneers settled, and the first high school (still stands, no longer a school) in my hometown is from sometime in the 19th century. The brick multistorey high school (now gone) dated from the early 20th.
We’re lucky that any wood ships from antiquity survive at all, in any form. Lead pipes from such ships may have been found before that were literally all that survived (or at least was obvious), and no one will ever figure it out. :’)
Maybe the captain was just really sure of himself. “I order a hole drilled in the boat! I’m that good!”
“Its true that federal laws about it didnt come about until 1918, but parts of what is now the US has had universal compulsory education in some form since the 17th c at least, in the form of parochial schools attached to religious sects. Massachusetts systematized it a statewide basis in 1852, but most people had some kind of 3-rs before that, even if it was taught at home. Rural one-room schools were around here in Michigan as soon as European-descent pioneers settled, and the first high school (still stands, no longer a school) in my hometown is from sometime in the 19th century. The brick multistorey high school (now gone) dated from the early 20th.”
All true. But this is completely different than Universal Compulsory Education. America came to power without it. All you say above is that a lot of Americans learned how to read and write in the 19th century.
Then, the generation that created UCE also created the New Deal and the beginning of the decline of America. The next generation (WWII) fought WWII nobly but did not undo the damage by it’s predecessors. By the next generation (boomers), the left had sunk it’s teeth into the now compulsory system and the socialist indoctrination of American children began in earnest. Then the boomers got control of the education system and institutionalized the socialist indoctrination, pc, and multiculturalism as official education industry orthodoxy. Things have pretty much gone off the cliff since then. So UCE maybe educated a single generation decently and quickly degenerated into a system that, every generation, provides more ideology and less education.
So coming back to the original point of the thread, I don’t see how Universal Compulsory Education would have turned Rome into a power that still exists today. IMHO, it is a big source of the decline in America—it has provided the infrastructure for centralized control over education in the hands of a small elite band of radical ideologues who have used their power ruthlessly. Indeed, the Soviets (who got their indoctrination system in place more quickly than the US) fell only 60 years after their UCE system was implemented.
So I don’t see how a monopoly school system would have made anything different in Rome, except perhaps to hasten the fall of the empire.
Universal compulsory education was around before a federal mandate for UCE. Teaching basics two centuries ago is just as much UCE as a grammar school is today.
Socialism is a modern (such as it is) concept, and has nothing to do with the Roman Empire, or learning basic skills. Your claim that ALL schools do is indoctrinate children into socialism, and have been doing that since the New Deal is a groundless contention — I was born long after that, and my public school didn’t indoctrinate me into socialism. There are those who believe that socialism hides behind anything they don’t like. Rome, with no UCE, had a bread dole that fed 100s of 1000s of residents at no cost to themselves, and did so for centuries. In the rear view mirror, what’s that look like to you?
Rome would indeed have become a more coherent polity with UCE — instead it acted like all aristocratic civilizations and maintained an underclass to do all work and have no rights. One of the things that UCE does is give everyone the chance to set their sights above where they are, and to have some idea of what’s going on with their own property and income.
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