Tuesday 30 May 2023

An archaeological artifact


Not me, you fool! - I mean the broken-in-half Roman rotary-quern. 

Such a quern works as described in this video. When complete, this stone would have had a hole in the top, and a hole in the side (you can see two-thirds of it at the point of breaking) which would have had a horizontal stubby stick inserted. 

Wheat, barley or rye would have been dribbled down the hole while turning this upper-part of the quern on a flat stone base, probably incised with lines to collect and channel the resulting flour. The flour came out all around the edges and was collected onto something like a leather hide underneath the quern, a flat board, or a larger flat stone. 

It was a very slow method of grinding, taking (I believe) more than an hour of hard work to grind enough grain for a loaf. 

This object we inherited from an ancient relative, who lived in West Northumberland in the vicinity of many Roman Ruins - which is why we believe it is Roman. 

But to be honest, I can't identify it with any degree of confidence. You might be able to see that it is fluted with vertical hollows - and I haven't been able to find any other similar-looking quern online in order to try and get a better date. 

Anyway, it's very old, and an impressive chunk of masonry. 


Sasha Melnik said...

They're remarkable objects - I see it and think.. how many people did it feed ? How many people actually used it ? What strange things happened around it ?

I've two from Rhodesia. Far more simplistic than the Roman kind - they're both just bowled out flat granite rocks. But interestingly the person who gave them to me also found a Roman oil lamp out there - probably lost and unrecognised in some museum, I guess brought south by arab traders.

Mine are used as bird baths now and fair well in that duty.


My name is Matt said...

"Not me, you fool!"

Ha ha ha! Well played Sir.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

That elephant in the background looks exactly like a gorilla until you zoom in. Must be one of those "gorilephants" Esmeralda worries about in Tarzan of the Apes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I see what you mean, but the tusks are a giveaway.