Barbegal carbonate imprints give a voice to the first industrial complex of Europe

Abstract : The watermill complex of Barbegal is one of the first industrial complexes in the world, and one of the largest such installations known from antiquity. It has been studied through excavations and what is known about the complex, its history and purpose, is based on the remaining stonework of mills and water installations, since no traces of the woodwork or machinery of the mills have been preserved. The archaeological museum in Arles, however, stores 142 pieces of carbonate that formed on the woodwork of the mills. We studied this material by analysis of the shape of the fragments and of stable isotopes and crystallographic fabric of selected carbonate samples. This paper presents some of the first results of this work, which shed light on the structure of the mills, repairs on the woodwork, the history of the mill complex, and on the question whether the mill chambers were open or closed. Regular repairs were made to the woodwork at variable intervals. The mill chambers were probably closed. Mill activity ended while water was still flowing over part of the woodwork, but in the open air, probably after damage to the roof structure during the third-century crisis. © 2019 Elsevier Ltd
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 11:37:20 AM
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G. Sürmelihindi, C.W. Passchier, P. Leveau, C. Spotl, M. Bourgeois, et al.. Barbegal carbonate imprints give a voice to the first industrial complex of Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Elsevier, 2019, 24, pp.1041-1058. ⟨10.1016/j.jasrep.2019.02.031⟩. ⟨hal-02122299⟩

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