Skip to comments.Long-distance oak supply in mid-2nd century AD... Roman harbour in the Netherlands
Posted on 09/28/2013 1:25:44 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Abstract -- We present dendrochronological evidence of long-distance oak timber supply for the harbour of the Roman town Forum Hadriani, an important market place and point for military supplies located at the watershed of the Rhine and Meuse rivers, near the North Sea in the west of the current Netherlands. During excavations at Voorburg-Arentsburg (site Forum Hadriani) in 2007-2008, the wooden quay from the Roman harbour was revealed and 60 oak (Quercus sp.) piles were sampled and analysed by dendrochronology. Hierarchical cluster analysis was employed to group the tree-ring series from the piles according to their affinity, and three object chronologies representing different provenances were obtained. These were compared to a spatial network of archaeological and palaeo-ecological site chronologies from the Netherlands and Germany covering the Roman period. Our research revealed two construction phases in the harbour, which were built with wood from different geographical sources. The oldest phase, dating to ca. AD 160, consists of oak from the southeast of the Netherlands and southern Germany, whereas the second, more recent one, was built in or shortly after AD 205 with oak grown in the catchment basin of the river Mosel. Our results further suggest that scarcity of local timber resources was the reason for the import of wood for the quay at Forum Hadriani, and evidence that the Romans had established a well organised timber distribution network to supply wood over large distances already in the mid-2nd century AD.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencedirect.com ...
Figure 1. a) Location of Voorburg-Arentsburg in the current Netherlands; b) Aerial view (Google maps) indicating the excavation trenches in the south-west of the town; c) schematic view of the excavated trenches with the course of Corbulos canal superimposed and the wooden piles marked.
Figure 2. a) Alignment of piles along the embankment in WP2; b) wooden pile from WP2; c) subsided wooden pile and surrounding disturbed layers. In the brown peat layer above the white arrow can still be seen where the pile was originally driven into the bedding (WP2). Photos: AAC.
Bought at the local Domum Vectum.
Those amazing Roman Engineers....did good work.
The Canal of Drusus (Fossa Drusiana)
did that mean they shipped the lumber around spain into mediterranian? I would like to see the boats that could do that in any quantity.
I read it ...as...the timber was used in the Netherlands.
Sometimes in the progressivist view of history that the liberals like to propagate, we forget that the Roman/Byzantine empires were as about as advanced a pre-industrial society that you could get. They were even masters of logistics that rivals our own time. It took to somewhere between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars before we finally surpassed them. There was nothing crude or primitive about them.
but if they were such good engineer’s where are the remains of their trains? Everyone know that engineers drive trains.
Other than its quite modern view of currency, Rome also had a benighted view of the free market, which puts it in the post-industrial category.
I wholeheartedly agree about Roman logistics — besides aqueducts, sewers, roads, bridges (some set without mortar and still in use today), amphitheaters, and tunnels which still exist, they maintained a huge empire using an all-purpose army (they played the role of local gendarmes, tax collectors, etc etc as well as defenders of the Empire) that varied in the range of one-half percent to one percent of the population under governance. That included naval forces plus the Roman equivalent of construction battalions.
Even during the calamitous third century, 3/4s of which was spent splintered into rival ‘empires’ in civil war with each other, the Empire didn’t collapse from outside attackers, and in fact business was booming, laying the groundwork in a way for the commerce during the Middle Ages (Byzantine trade continued far and wide, including with formerly Roman Britain).
The political framework was always the weak link in Roman affairs, but the first of Rome’s conquests was of Ostia, during late prehistoric (because no writing; probably whatever archives there were burned during the Gallic sack of Rome) times, sometime in the 7th c BC, and the last remnant of the empire in Constantinople fell to the Turks in the mid-15th century AD, iow, over a 2000 year span. Just how long do we expect a polity to last, anyway? :’)
The oaks came from what is now the Netherlands and Germany, as stated in the excerpt, but yeah, the Romans shipped enormous cargoes in what may have been the largest wooden craft ever built and used on a routine basis. The great ship built during the reign of Caligula, to carry a 300+ ton obelisk to Rome from Egypt, was moored for some years thereafter, until used as a concrete form to build the mole in Claudius’ new all-weather port in Ostia.
The remains of that ship (or a very nice mold of the interior structures) probably can still be found via excavation, and the port of Claudius silted up long ago and is a mile or so inland.
Very interesting how sophisticated their lumber distribution was. That is a very bulky product.
Must be there weren’t any suitable trees in the area. :’) Seriously, the Romans did burn a lot of wood, and cleared everything back from roads to a distance of (if memory serves) two bowshots.
The article made it sound as if the wood they imported was pretty stout stuff, so I presume it was worthwhile shipping it those distances.
And I presume the wood was cut by locals and traded for Roman goods. They must have gotten it for a cheap price if they could afford to ship it all the way to Rome. I wonder how long it took for that trip...
Actually, according to the link they were shipping wood from forests on the upper Rhine down to this port in modern day Netherlands.
“Other than that, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
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