Querns and mills during Roman times at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire (Belgium, Northern France, Southern Netherlands, Western Germany): Unraveling geological and geographical provenances, a multidisciplinary research project

  • Sibrecht Reniere Ghent University
  • Wim De Clercq Ghent University
  • Roland Dreesen Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
  • Eric Goemaere Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
  • Gilles Fronteau University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne
  • Tatjana Gluhak Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
  • Else Hartoch Gallo-Roman Museum
  • Paul Picavet Lille University (Lille 3)
Keywords: geoarchaeology, provenance study, millstone, querns, ground stone tools, Roman Empire, Gallia Belgica, Germania Inferior

Abstract


This paper presents the results of a multi-disciplinary provenance study of querns and millstones during the Roman period (1st-4th century CE) in the northern part of the Roman Empire (provinces of Gallia Belgica and Germania Inferior). Comparative petrographical, mineralogical and geochemical analysis allowed an international team of archaeologists and geologists to identify the different raw materials used for the manufacturing of querns and millstones. As a result, (litho-) stratigraphic assignments as well as geological-geographical provenances are suggested or corroborated for the broad spectrum of these natural geo-materials. We give evidence for the exploitation of at least seven different rock types. They include sedimentary rocks (fine- to coarse-grained quartzitic and arkosic sandstones, conglomerates, limestones) and volcanic rocks (vesicular lavas) derived from different geological strata in the following geological-geographical settings: the volcanic Eifel area (Pleistocene lava), the Ardennes Massif (Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks) and the Paris and Northern Sea Basin (Cenozoic sedimentary rocks). Furthermore we show that a large diversity existed within different productions (different types of hand-mills and mechanical powered mills) and distribution patterns. This paper provides new data which will lead to new insights into the socio-economics of the local “Gallo-Roman” communities and into their networks within the northern Roman Empire.

Author Biographies

Sibrecht Reniere, Ghent University
Ghent University
Department of Archaeology
Faculty of Arts and Philosophy
Historical Archaeology Research Group (HARG)
Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 900 Gent
Belgium
Wim De Clercq, Ghent University
Ghent University - Department of Archaeology - Faculty of Arts and Philosophy - Historical Archaeology Research Group (HARG). Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 35, 900 Gent, Belgium
Roland Dreesen, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Geological Survey of Belgium. Jennerstraat 13, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Eric Goemaere, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Geological Survey of Belgium. Jennerstraat 13, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Gilles Fronteau, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne
University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne - Groupe d’Etude des Géomatériaux et Environnements Naturels, Anthropiques et Archéologiques (EA 3795). 2, esplanade Roland Garros, 51100 Reims, France
Tatjana Gluhak, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Institute for Geosciences - Team Geomaterials and Gemstone Research. J.-J.-Becher-Weg 21, D-55128 Mainz, Germany
Else Hartoch, Gallo-Roman Museum
Gallo-Roman Museum, Tongeren. Kielenstraat 15, 3700 Tongeren, Belgium
Paul Picavet, Lille University (Lille 3)
Lille University (Lille 3) – Laboratoire d’Histoire, Archéologie et Littérature des Mondes Anciens (HALMA IPEL). Rue du Barreau, BP 60149 59653, Villeneuve d’Ascq., France

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Published
31-Oct-2016
How to Cite
Reniere, S., De Clercq, W., Dreesen, R., Goemaere, E., Fronteau, G., Gluhak, T., Hartoch, E., & Picavet, P. (2016). Querns and mills during Roman times at the northern frontier of the Roman Empire (Belgium, Northern France, Southern Netherlands, Western Germany): Unraveling geological and geographical provenances, a multidisciplinary research project. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 403-428. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1640
Section
Papers Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research