By Charles Singer et al (eds)
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Extra resources for A History of Technology
Surviving blocks have been named for descriptive purposes and are found in all stages o f preparation, revealing the Roman mason’s methods. T h e ‘pyramid’, for example, is split into three huge pieces by two horizontal rows o f holes for the insertion o f wedges. From the ‘altar-stone’ two blocks, for pillars, have already been removed . T h e altar-stone, 3-5 yds long and almost 6 ft high, is technically the more interest ing. Deep incisions accurately cut with a saw indicate the intention to split off blocks 20-24 inches in thickness.
Those o f the Stannaries, that is, the tin-mining area o f Cornwall and D evon, are very detailed. According to Carew’s ‘Survey o f Cornw'all’ (1602) ‘they sincke a shafts or pit o f five or six foote in length, two or three foote in breadth, and seven or eight foote in depth, to proove whether they may so meete with the Load [lode]’ . H e says that ‘their MINING IN MEDIEVAL TIMES 13 ordinary tools are a pickaxe o f iron, about sixteen inches long, sharpened at the one end to peck, and flat-headed at the other, to drive certain little iron wedges, wherewith they cleave the rocks.
H e also built in the palace the famous porphyry room lined with slabs o f this rock. T o that room later empresses had to go for the birth o f their children; 28 T h e breadth o f this [Appian W ay] is such that two wagons going in opposite directions can pass one another. T h e paving, which extends as far as C apua, was o f naturally hard millstone. A fter working these stones until smooth and flat and cutting them to a poly gonal shape, Appius fitted them together without mortar so securely and closed the joints so firmly that they look as though grown together.