Category Archives: State of affairs

State of affairs

At present, there is no dictionary that brings together the definitions of technical terms related to production in the ancient world or which makes it possible to find, with ease, the translation of such terms in other languages.

Previous works in this area can be classified into two distinct types. First, there are the ‘true’ dictionaries, which generally are either highly specialised (for instance, the Dictionnaire méthodique de l’architecture grecque et romaine [1]), or are too general, being focused on a specific period or geographical area [2]. As dictionaries, they offer definitions of the terms in the subject that they cover and occasionally, though rarely, in more than one language. The second type are thesauruses and lexicons that offer simple lists of words generally focusing on one specific production process, based on one type of primary material (e.g. metal) or on a major category of production (e.g. ceramics [3]). Often, they abound in technical detail, but do not necessarily also find definitions for the terms listed. With few exceptions, these works present their entries in alphabetical order, which makes it difficult to consult the work ex abrupto, without having a clearly defined term as a starting point.

Therefore, there is considerable scope for a reasoned, multilingual dictionary of the productive techniques of the ancient world.

[1] R. Ginouvès, R. Martin, Dictionnaire méthodique de l’architecture grecque et romaine. Tome I. Matériaux, techniques de construction, techniques et formes du décor, Rome – Athènes, 1985 (Collection de l’École française de Rome, 84, 1) [available online]. R. Ginouvès, R. Martin, Dictionnaire méthodique de l’architecture grecque et romaine. Tome II. Éléments constructifs : supports, couvertures, aménagements intérieurs, Rome – Athènes, 1992 (Collection de l’École française de Rome, 84, 1) [available online]. R. Ginouvès (dir.), Dictionnaire méthodique de l’architecture grecque et romaine. Tome III. Espaces architecturaux, bâtiments et ensembles, Rome – Athènes, 1998 (Collection de l’École française de Rome, 84, 3) [available online]. [2] O. Aurenche, Dictionnaire illustré multilingue de l’architecture du Proche Orient ancien, Lyon, 1977 (Collection de la Maison de l’Orient méditerranéen ancien, 3).

[3] N. Blondel, Céramique : vocabulaire et technique, Paris, 2001 (Principes d’analyse scientifique, 8).