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The technology and economics of water-borne transportation systems in Roman Britain 2002

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The Technology and Economics of Water-Borne Transportation Systems in Roman Britain by RODERICK .1. O. M I L L A R 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 F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A 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. T h e 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, C a e s a r e a M a r i t i m a and A l e x a n d r i a 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 B E U , 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 i i i Appendices and Glossaries v List of Tables vi List of Maps vii List of Illustrations viii Acknowledgements xvii Dedication 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 23 1.7. Discussion and Conclusion 24 Section II: Water Transport II. 1