Editorial remarks

Form and contents of the entries

Whether they are substantives, verbs or adjectives, all elements of the vocabulary that contribute to the description of the technical process will be defined, both in French and English, including those that might be considered trivial or part of a shared technical culture. A translation of the term in each of the four other languages of the dictionary will systematically be proposed in alphabetical order in both English and the French version (see the examples below). While this means that some translations will be repeated, it will allow a continuous reading of the text in both the two principal languages. If no precise translation exists in one of the other languages, it will simply be omitted. The reader can then refer to the definition to understand the meaning where absent from his language.

The choice of words used will be based on the requirements of the description of the technique. Some synonyms can be added, when necessary, but only if synonyms are perfect or almost perfect and if they reflect common and renowned usage. For instance, the slag resulting from forging will, in the francophone version, be referred to as both ‘en calotte’ and ‘en culot’, though this does not imply that they refer to different phenomena; the two terms will be defined at the same moment as synonyms. The multiplication of synonyms, and in particular the use of terms whose use can be considered as vernacular, will be avoided. If, in the face of too numerous and specific terms, or even unrelated regional languages, a choice must be made by the volume’s editors, explanations for the latter will be given it in the foreword.

Particular attention will be given to verbs and the ways in which they make it possible to effectively describe the technical action. When a name derives from a verb describing an action (e.g. to knead and kneading), both should be mentioned and translated, though being gathered under a unique definition.

The definitions will evidently be based upon existing literature both general and, more specifically, technical in nature. The dictionary will not aim to replace existing definitions but will suggest syntheses that best fit the specific needs of the description of ancient techniques. The degree of detail in these definitions will vary according to the complexity of the terms involved. In general, descriptions will be limited to the details that influenced the production processes or were influenced by them and so will avoid the kind of detailed typological considerations that dominate the literature on the procedure. Reference to such considerations will be given in notes. Very short phrases will make it possible to create logical ties between the definitions.

Among the information to be included in the definition, giving a general evaluation of the dimensions of the described elements is considered as important. If these dimensions were to be highly variable, it would be necessary to see if the use of a second definition would not be useful to better characterize the elements of different sizes.


The notes will be used to give subsidiary or rejected elements.

The insertion of Latin or Greek terms will occur in note, briefly specifying the times of use of these terms. Thus, figlina would appear twice in notes, first as a possible translation of clay extraction zone for the Republican period, then in connection with the possible definition of ceramic production workshop for the imperial period.

If Greek or Latin terms have been used in the past to characterize production-related elements in an abusive manner, the reason for their rejection will be quickly explained in notes. However, if this use is part of an unresolved debate, the mention of these terms will be reported to the last chapter of the second part (see below).

In general, we will not indicate Greek and Latin terms referring to practitioners, names of trades etc.

It is also in notes that the elements justifying the introduction of a definition in the body of the text, whether bibliographical references or justifications based on ethnographic or experimental parallels, are given. Ethnographic elements not clearly attested in Antiquity will be mentioned in note only if they could have occurred, apart from a major technical break, and if they seem difficult to observe through Ancient sources (see below the example of the weighing in the bakery). In order to avoid the transformation of DicTA into a universal dictionary of techniques, we will not integrate radical technical breaks (e.g. cast-iron or steel will not be mentioned).

The notes will also address low-intensity debates, particularly with regard to terminological problems, especially when the practice in the archaeological literature appears inadequate or has been discussed too recently for a solution to have already been adopted. If the term normally used by archaeologists is a bit unsuitable, the term used in modern practice should be given in note. If, on the other hand, the term traditionally used by archaeologists is frankly improper, it will be rejected as a note and replaced in the main text by a word from modern or contemporary practice.

In short, the body of the text will include only accepted or acceptable terms while the notes will be populated with incorrect, discussed or rejected terms.


Broyer (tr.). All. zerstossen ; angl. crush ; esp. triturar ; it. frantumare. Réduire en petites particules ou en pâte par choc ou par pression discontinue.

Moudre (tr.). All. mahlen ; angl. grind ; esp. moler ; it. macinare. Réduire en particules fines par pression continue en recourant à un moulin.

Grind (w. obj.). Fr. moudre ; ger. mahlen ; it. macinare ; sp. moler. Reduce (something) to small particles or powder by crushing it with a continuous pressure using a quern or a mill.

Pétrissage (m.) [All. Teigbereitung (f.), Knetung (*) ; angl. kneading ; esp. *** (*.) ; it. impastatura (f.). Verbe : pétrir (tr.) ; all. Kneten (tr.) ; angl. to knead (w. obj.) ; esp. amasar (tr.) ; it. impastare (tr.)] action de mélanger la farine avec de l’eau, un éventuel agent levant et tout autre ingrédient afin d’en faire une pâte. Il se singularise du simple mélange des ingrédients par sa durée visant tout autant à homogénéiser la pâte qu’à donner de l’énergie aux agents levant.

Que ce soit immédiatement après le pétrissage ou après le pointage, la pâte doit être divisée [All. teilen (v. tr.) ; angl. to divide (w. obj.) ; esp. dividir (v. tr.) ; it. dividere (v. tr.)] en masses plus réduites et vraisemblablement pesée [All. wiegen (v. tr.) ; angl. to weigh (w. obj.) ; esp. pesar (v. tr.) ; it. pesare (v. tr.)][2].


Form and content of the electronical version

An electronic edition will be prepared in parallel to the printed volumes. This will utilise free open-source software (e.g. through a wiki). This kind of web application will allow us to keep the organization of the printed volumes and make quick updates. The platform will have two interfaces. The first will reproduce the general text with hyperlinks to a second interface where the definitions in strict sense of the word will be located.

From publication, the electronic edition will include the French and English text, but it will be easily possible to add other languages in the future; including the three already used in the translation of the terminology, and others, such as Arabic and Greek. The additional translations into these languages will be published under the responsibility of the editorial board.

Without limiting the collaborative character of the dictionary, the ability to edit the electronic contents will be generally restricted to the members of the different editorial boards but can be extended at their recommendation.

The most complicated difficulty with respect to the electronic edition at this point will concern the images. These will necessarily need to be made available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA Licence.  However, this is not always straightforward. There is juridical risk on two fronts: first, there is a risk of conflict of interest with the publisher; this can be regulated via contracts.  Second, it is possible that for some figures that have already been published no use can be made of the right of citation, so that they cannot be published online without the agreement of their author, or the publishing company. The exact implications of European legislation on this point are currently being investigated.

[1] À titre d’exemple, le français utilise le terme de battitures qui, bien qu’il s’agisse d’un terme employé au XIXe par les sidérurgistes industriels, ne serait plus en usage chez les forgerons actuels qui emploieraient à la place le terme plus générique de calamine. Si ce dernier terme ne devait pas recevoir de définition, il faudrait l’indiquer comme synonyme « moderne » en note.

[2] La pesée, phase reconnue dans la boulangerie moderne, est attestée sur le seul relief du Museo civico de Bologne (Inv. Rom. 1872). Le fragment supérieur droit montre un personnage qui dépose des boules de pâte sur la table de façonnage ; au-dessus de son épaule gauche est visible un probable plateau de balance [All. *** (*.) ; angl. scale pan ; esp. platillo (m.) de la balanza (f.) ; it. piatto (m.) di bilancia (f.)].
Dans la boulangerie moderne, il y aurait, après la pesée, une nouvelle phase, brève, de fermentation, la détente [all. Zwischengare (f.), Ballengare (f.) ; angl. intermediate, first proving ; esp. *** (*.) ; it. rinfresco (m.)], qui survient après le boulage [all. Rundwirken (m.) ; angl. rounding ; it. staglio (m.)] ou mise de la pâte en boules [all. Teigballe (f.) ; esp. *** (*.)]. Aucun élément, même iconographique ne permet de considérer si ces deux phases étaient pratiquées dans l’Antiquité. Il n’est pas impossible que boulage et façonnage aient été confondus.

Dictionnaire des techniques dans l'Antiquité | Dictionary of Techniques in Antiquity

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