Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2122/7819
AuthorsLancaster, L.* 
Sottili, G.* 
Marra, F.* 
Ventura, G.* 
TitlePROVENANCING OF LIGHTWEIGHT VOLCANIC STONES USED IN ANCIENT ROMAN CONCRETE VAULTING: EVIDENCE FROM ROME
Issue Date2011
Series/Report no.4/53(2011)
DOI10.1111/j.1475-4754.2010.00565.x
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/2122/7819
Keywordsconcrete vault
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.99. General or miscellaneous 
AbstractSome of the most structurally innovative concrete vaults built in imperial Rome employed lightweight volcanic rocks to reduce the lateral thrust on the supporting walls, the most famous being the Pantheon. Roman concrete (opus caementicium) was made up of mortar binding together pieces of large aggregate (caementa) usually ranging from 10 to 20 cm long, which were hand laid in the mortar (as opposed to being poured as is typical in modern concrete), so that it resembles mortared rubble. A key aspect of the development of large-scale concrete vaulting was the ability to regulate the weight of the ingredients in order to reduce the weight of the vaults and to control the forces within the structure. The volcanic environment along the west coast of Italy provided numerous stones of different weights and physical properties from which the builders could choose (Fig. 1), including pumice and scoria, which were the most common choices for the lightweight caementa of the most innovative vaulted structures. Because these materials were produced by many of the Italian volcanoes, our goal was to establish the provenance of those used in vaults in Rome in order to understand better the supply network. We first used thin sections to narrow the potential sources and then we submitted selected samples to X-ray fluorescence
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