Ancient Romans Used Molten Iron to Repair Streets Before Vesuvius Erupted

Live Science | 5/15/2019 | Staff
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Ancient workers used molten iron to repair Pompeii's streets before the historic and devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, a team of archaeologists has discovered.

The discovery reveals a previously unknown method of ancient Roman street repair and represents "the first large-scale attestation of the Roman use of molten iron," wrote researchers Eric Poehler, a classics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; Juliana van Roggen, an independent researcher; and Benjamin Crowther, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin, in a paper recently published in the American Journal of Archaeology.

Pompeii - Streets - Stone - Survey - July

Many of Pompeii's streets were paved with stone, but during a survey in July 2014, archaeologists found that over time, the passage of carts eroded those stones to form deep holes, or ruts. Repaving streets was an expensive and time-consuming process, historical records and archaeological remains show.

Deep ruts formed on Pompeii's paved streets as carts eroded the stones: "A" shows an area of street with deep ruts; "B" shows an area with repairs; section "C" shows another deeply rutted section.

Option - Repair - Repaving - Stone - Endeavor

"One option for repair, complete repaving in stone, was a difficult and expensive endeavor that might block important through-routes in a city for months," the researchers wrote in their paper.

This posed a problem for the people of Pompeii, since some of the city's many streets could become eroded quickly. "Investigations at Pompeii have shown that particularly high volumes of traffic concentrated in narrow streets could wear down even a stone-paved surface in only a few decades," the researchers wrote.

Team - Pompeians - Option - Street - Repair

The team found that "the Pompeians devised another option [for street repair] that was ingenious and unconventional: after...
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