Large-Scale Manufacturing, Standardization, and Trade

Andrew I. Wilson

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Large-Scale Manufacturing, Standardization, and Trade

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
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This article explores the chief features and limitations of mass production in the ancient world, and what the phenomenon might imply about the nature and performance of the ancient economy. It also describes the technologies of large-scale manufacturing and of organization. Trade in marble illustrates a basic division of labor, spatially separated between quarries and final workshops. The production of bread using baking and milling, and the manufacture of decorative marble objects are then dealt with in this article. Large-scale production is particularly apparent in certain kinds of food production and the processing of agricultural produce; in some of these, the scale of production that was achieved was maintained by a limited use of machines. There is much more research that needs to be done, particularly on the mass production of arms and armor, and we are only just beginning to see how to read clues about organization and division of labor from the archaeology of production sites.

Keywords: large-scale manufacturing; standardization; marble trade; mass production; ancient economy; bread; labor; baking; milling

Article.  11343 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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