Part 2 – Synthesis

In addition to the definitions of the elements that make up each operational sequence, the volumes will also include a final part providing a comparative synthesis that makes it possible to sketch the historical evolution of the techniques in antiquity. This synthesis will offer visual representations of the operational sequences described in the first part of the volume, and will outline, as far as possible, the chronological and geographical variations.

This part, which by definition will be the most ephemeral part of the volume, will present an overview of current knowledge for each production process and offer a sketch of on-going debates at the moment of writing. It will therefore avoid the more strictly economic or social questions (status, size and specialization of the work-force; the impact of the work on them; differences between domestic and commercial forms of production, etc.), though the elements brought together in the synthesis will be of help in redacting editing other specialized works approaching economic questions from a technical angle.

Graphical synthesis

The first chapter of the synthesis will consist of a graphical synthesis of the operational sequences that have been discussed in detail in the first part of the volume. The aim of this is to visualize and clarify the operational sequences that have been presented in a more theoretical manner in the first part. We will use a standardised graphical apparatus to make it easier to draw comparisons between the different production chains related to one type of production. For instance, it will be possible to compare the process of producing red figured pottery with that of producing African Red Slip ware, or that of making an iron knife with that of making a knife of bronze. This graphical synthesis could also serve as an entry point for readers who want to understand the phases of certain production processes without having a clear idea about its structure beforehand.

Catalogue of detailed examples

The second chapter of the synthesis will introduce several key examples, showing, whenever possible, a plan (at a set scale) of a workshop with a spatial translation of the operational sequence and a text describing the most important elements that can be observed, including their dating. If workshop remains are unknown or unidentifiable for a specific production process (e.g. shipbuilding, bone working, woodworking, etc.), an operational sequence based on the analysis of complete objects will be proposed and the graphic synthesis will be integrated with the catalogue of examples.

The examples, necessarily limited in number, will be chosen from those cases that have been well-preserved and well-studied, and will reflect the development and the principal innovations that took place in the production process studied in the volume under question.

Innovation and diffusion of production techniques

The third chapter will synthesize in a relatively brief text the most important innovations that can be reconstructed for the production processes. This is the descriptive pendant of the graphical synthesis, highlighting the technical innovations, their chronology and the geography of their spread, without losing sight of the elements that recur throughout antiquity.

Ongoing debates

The final chapter will highlight unresolved issues in the study of the production processes discussed in the volume. The aim of this is not to take position in these debates, but to present the terms of debate as objectively as possible. For example, in the volume devoted to textiles, this chapter will include an outline of the debate regarding the interpretation of the ‘lanifricariae’, and whether or not they were devoted to fleece-washing.


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