Over the last few decades, archaeologists from Bulgaria and Poland have been performing excavations at the site where the Roman legionary fortress of Novae once stood. The ruins of the fortress can be found in northern Bulgaria along the Danube River, where Roman occupiers established and defended a territorial border 2,000 years ago. The ongoing excavations there have produced a number of remarkable and enlightening finds, and the list of these unearthed marvels now includes an ancient example of a durable and popular technology - the refrigerator.
As reported by the Polish Press Agency (PAP), a team of archaeologists under the leadership of Professor Piotr Dyczek from the Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Center at the University of Warsaw were exploring beneath a floor at the fortress, when they came across a square, box-like container made from thick, reddish ceramic plates. The archaeologists were able to identify this constructed object as an ancient version of an icebox or refrigerator, which then as now was used to store perishable food.
Roman Ingenuity on Display
The Roman refrigerator was found inside a military barracks. It was a built-in element that was installed in a niche in the buildings stone floor underground, meaning it could only be opened from the top. This design ensured it would have been reasonably well insulated by the cool stone that surrounded it on three sides.
Since Bulgaria experiences temperatures below freezing for up to five months each year, Roman soldiers could have collected ice or snow to place inside the box to keep their food cold and fresh during the wintertime.
The researchers were delighted to discover that the ceramic storage box was not empty. Within the refrigerator they found pieces of ceramic vessels along with several baked bone fragments, presumably the remnants of cooked food. They also found a bowl containing charcoal, which they believe would have been used to repel insects.
The Novae fortress was constructed during the first century AD. It seems likely the food storage box would have been installed at that time, as a natural element in a fully outfitted army barracks building.
Click for Full Text!