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The technology and economics of water-borne transportation systems in Roman Britain Millar, Roderick J. O. 2002

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The Technology and Economics of Water-Borne Transportation Systems in Roman Britain by RODERICK .1. O. MILLAR B.Sc. (Eng), The University of London, 1950 Banff School of Advanced Management, 1966 B.A. The University of British Columbia, 1987 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA January 2002 copyright Roderick J. O. Millar, 2002 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) 11. The Technology and Economics of Water-Borne Transportation Systems in Roman Britain Abstract The thesis examines a number of questions concerning the design, construction, costs and use of Romano-British seagoing and inland waters shipping. In the first part the reasons for the methods of construction for seagoing and coastal vessels, such as the Blackfriars Ship 1, the St. Peter Port Ship and the Barland's Farm Boat, have been investigated. The constructional characteristics of the two ships are massive floors and frames, with the planking fastened only to the floors and frames with heavy clenched iron nails. There is no edge to edge fastening of the planks, with tenons inserted into mortises cut into the edges of the planks, as is normal in the Mediterranean tradition of ship construction in the Roman period. The Romano-British ships also differ from the Scandinavian tradition of clinker building with overlapping planks nailed to each other along their length. It has been concluded that a natural phenomenon, the large tidal range around the British Isles and the northern coasts of Gaul and Germany, had a dominant effect on the design of seagoing vessels. Deep water harbours, such as Portus, Caesarea Maritima and Alexandria in the Mediterranean, where ships could lie afloat at all times, were neither practicable nor economic with the technology available. At the British ports, such as Dover, London and Chichester, ships had to come in with the high tide, moor to simple wharves at the high tide level, and then settle on the ground as the tide dropped. At the numerous small havens, inlets and estuaries around the British coasts, ships would come in with the tide, settle on a natural or man-made 'hard' as the tide fell, and discharge cargo over the side to carts, pack animals or people. This mode of operation required sturdy ships that could take the ground without damage, and also withstand a certain amount of 'bumping' on the bottom in the transition period from fully afloat to fully aground. The second part of the thesis investigates the cost of building, maintaining and operating various types of vessels. To do this,.a new mode for measuring cost, the Basic Economic Unit, or BEU, has been developed. The probable volume of the various types of cargoes carried has been examined. It appears that grain was the dominant cargo in both coastal and overseas traffic. The total cost of building, maintaining and operating the seagoing and inland water shipping was less than one percent of the gross product of Britain, a small cost for an essential service. Table of Contents 111. Abstract ii Table of Contents iiAppendices and Glossaries v List of Tables vi List of Maps viList of Illustrations viii Acknowledgements xviDedication xviii Section I: Some General Considerations 1.1. Introduction 2 1.2. Materials to be Transported, Sources, Destinations 7 1.3. Containers and Packaging: Security 10 1.4. Tools 16 1.5. Procurement and Conversion of Timber 21 1.6. Metal Work for Transportation Systems 3 1.7. Discussion and Conclusion 24 Section II: Water Transport II. 1. Introduction 29 11.2. The Technology: Theory and Hypotheses on Hull Form and Construction 29 11.3. Theory and Hypotheses on Propulsion Systems and Methods 32 11.4. Bronze and Iron Age Predecessors and Frisian and Saxon Successors 34 11.5. Romano-British Ships and Boats: Some Hypotheses 45 11.6. Five Excavated Gallo-Roman and Romano-British Ships and Boats. 6.1. Introduction 50 6.2. The Types of Vessels Needed in Roman Britain 53 6.3. The Logboats and Hide Boats 56.4 Some Difficulties in Building Planked Boats 54 6.5. The Flat-Bottomed Chine type Barges in Europe 5 6.6 Hypothetical Flat-bottomed Barges in Britain 56 iv. 6.7. The New Guy's House Boat (c. AD 180) 57 6.8. The Blackfriars Ship 1 (c. AD 150) 60 6.9. The Barland's Farm Boat (late 3rd cent. AD) 66 6.10. The St. Peter Port Ship (c. AD 285) 70 6.11. The County Hall Ship (c. AD 300)11.7.1. The Literary Evidence 81 11.7.2. The Epigraphic Evidence 3 11.7.3. The Iconographic Evidence 5 11.8. Harbours, Havens, Wharves and Warehouses 8.1. Introduction 87 8.2. Roman Water-borne Transportation Requirements 88 8.3. The Types and Sizes of Ports 90 8.4. The Search for Roman Harbours and Harbour Installations in Britain 91 8.5. An Alternative or Supplementary Hypothesis 94 8.6. Canals and Artificial Waterways 98 Annexes to Section II.8. Annex 1. The classis Britannica 100 Annex 2. List of Tidal Ranges around Britain 102 Annex 3. The Problem of Subsidence, Silting, Coastal Erosion and Littoral Drift on the East and South Coasts of Britain 103 Annex 4. Cleere's List of harbours from the Roman Road System 105 Annex 5. Possible Minor Harbours around Britain from the River Tyne to the River Exe 106 11.9. Discussion and Conclusions on The Technology of Romano-British Vessels and Harbour Facilities 9.1. Introduction 114 9.2. The Constraints9.3. The Technology of Hull Construction for Romano-British vessels .118 9.4. The Technology of Harbour Installations in Roman Britain 123 9.5 Summary and Conclusions on the Technology of Roman Water-Borne Transport 126 Section III: The Economics of Water-Borne Transport III. 1. Introduction 129 111.2. The Cargoes and Types of Vessel Needed 131 111.3. The Cost of Building Four Representative Vessels 135 111.4. The Cost of Operating and Maintaining Four Representative Vessels and their Useful Working Life 153 III. 5. The Volume of Goods to be Transported, and the Number of Vessels Needed for Sea and Coastal Voyages, and Inland River Movements 1