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Reconstructing the past to prevent future loss: The dyeing industry of Pompeii

  • H. J. Hopkins (a1)

Abstract

The industrial dyeing apparatus excavated in Pompeii have been preserved and remain in situ. To understand Pompeii’s economy, and its place in the Roman world, it is necessary to first understand the capabilities of a single industry. Before this study, the size of the dyeing industry was calculated by applying theory to a superficial measurement of the remains. This study was the first to realise that to understand an industry it was necessary to reconstruct and use the relevant parts.

The most comprehensive survey of the apparatus was undertaken. A full-scale physical replica was constructed from materials that physically and thermally matched the originals. This study was the first to define the dyeing cycle time, temperatures reached and fuel type and quantity required. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was used to model a virtual replica to show the effect of external influences on the materials during use. The lead metal data did not exist before this study. This was the first use of FEA to model an archaeological apparatus or artefact of more than one material. The dyeing industry had been far smaller than originally thought.

Archaeological virtual replications tend to be aesthetic. This study produced a rare physical replication. When this is combined with data from the original survey and physical replicas each apparatus is now ‘preserved by record’ and may be recreated. Some of the apparatus in Pompeii have been amended in an attempt to reconstruct and preserve them. This study has shown that the amendments are incorrect and potentially misleading.

Prior to this study the size of the industry was a controversial ‘unanswerable’ question. This study provided a solid foundation that answered the question and illustrated a new approach, through a method that provided a means of preserving the apparatus for the future.

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References

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1. Moeller, W., The wool trade of ancient Pompeii. (E.J.Bril: Leiden, 1976).
2. Wild, J. P., Textile History. 8, 180 (1977).
3. Jongman, W., The Economy and Society of Pompeii. (J.C. Gieben, Amsterdam. 1988).
4. Laurence, R., Roman Pompeii Space and Society. (Routledge, London. 1994)
5. Janaway, R. and Robinson, D., unpublished survey of dyeing apparatus in Pompeii, 1994.
6. Hopkins, H., Willimott, L., Janaway, R., Robinson, D., Seale, W.. Understanding the economic influence of the dyeing industry in Pompeii through the application of experimental archaeology and thermodynamics. In Scientific Analysis of Ancient and Historic Textiles, Informing Preservation, Display and interpretation eds Janaway, R. C. and Wyeth, P.. (Archetype Publications, London. 2005).
7. Hopkins, H. J. An investigation of the parameters that would influence the scale of the dyeing industry in Pompeii An application of experimental archaeology and computer simulation techniques to investigate the scale of manufacture of the dyeing industry and the factors that influence output. (PhD thesis, University of Bradford, 2007).
8. Hopkins, H. J.. Papers of the British School of Rome. Gazetteer of the dyeing works of Pompeii. forthcoming
9. Greenfield, P., Creep of Metals of high temperatures. (Mills and Boon, 1972)
10. Coles, J., Archaeology by Experiment. (Hutchinson University Library, London. 1973).
11. Fagan, M. J., Finite Element Analysis: Theory and Practice. (Longman Scientific & Technical: Harlow, England. 1992)
12. ABAQUS 6.3 /Standard User’s Manual, Vol. II, (Hibbitt, Karlsson and Sorensen Inc. 2002).
13. Hopkins, H. J.. Archaeometry. Creep of Lead Dyeing Vessels in Pompeii. forthcoming
14. Happa, J., Mudge, M., Debattista, K., Artusi, A., Gonçalves, A., Chalmers, A., Virtual Reality,14:155182 (2010).
15. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11704720 viewed 7th November 2010. This is a link from the main page of BBC news, United Kingdom. Responsibility for upkeep of this site does not rest with the author.

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Reconstructing the past to prevent future loss: The dyeing industry of Pompeii

  • H. J. Hopkins (a1)

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