Roger B. Ulrich

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


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Wood had been a readily available resource with a seemingly limitless array of applications. The evidence for the technology of woodworking can be summarized under four broad categories: ancient written sources, including inscriptions; artistic representations of tools, craftsmen at work, and wooden objects; artifacts connected with the technology of woodworking, actual wooden objects, and objects of which wood formed an important component; and the important role of ethnographic analogy and experimental archaeology. These categories are separately addressed. Theophrastus composed two extant major studies on trees and other plants: Historia Plantarum and De Causis Plantarum. Wooden furniture fashioned by Greek and Roman craftsmen provides evidence of additional woodworking practices. The carving, bending, and veneering of wood are covered. Given twentieth-century developments in preservation and the science of analysis, the recovery and restoration of ancient wooden artifacts has enabled modern scholars to document with increasing detail this vital component of ancient life.

Keywords: woodworking; Theophrastus; Historia Plantarum; De Causis Plantarum; wooden furniture; carving; bending; veneering wood; ancient wooden artifacts

Article.  10166 words. 

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

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