Materials Science in Ancient Rome

ARCHAEOGATE, July 23, 2011

7 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2016 Last revised: 30 Mar 2016

Date Written: July 23, 2011


Two books, the "De Architectura" by Vitruvius and the "Naturalis Historia" by Pliny the Elder, give us a portrait of the Materials Science, that is, the knowledge of materials, in Rome at the beginning of the Empire. Here, I am reporting some very attractive contents that we can find in these books. The reader will see the discussion proposed in fours case studies: concretes, coatings, amorphous materials and colloidal crystals, to describe them in modern words.

Keywords: concretes, glass, ancient Rome, opals, archaeology, materials science, amalgams

Suggested Citation

Sparavigna, Amelia Carolina, Materials Science in Ancient Rome (July 23, 2011). ARCHAEOGATE, July 23, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (Contact Author)

Polytechnic University of Turin ( email )

Corso Duca degli Abruzzi, 24
Torino, Torino 10129

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