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Title: Archaeologists Unearth First Century Roman Refrigerator in Bulgaria
Source: Ancient Origins
URL Source: ... vae-roman-refrigerator-0017341
Published: Sep 30, 2022
Author: Nathan Falde
Post Date: 2022-09-30 18:48:01 by X-15
Keywords: None
Views: 142
Comments: 8

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 building’s 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.

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Begin Trace Mode for Comment # 7.

#1. To: X-15 (#0)

it would have been reasonably well insulated by the cool stone that surrounded it on three sides.

Wood would have made a much better insulator. Stone conducts heat about 10 times better than wood.

StraitGate  posted on  2022-09-30   19:25:28 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: StraitGate (#1)

Rereading, I guess it depends on how cool the box needed to be. Ground temperature near 50 degrees or near freezing.

Pinguinite  posted on  2022-10-01   10:49:54 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: Pinguinite (#3)

Roman soldiers could have collected ice or snow to place inside the box

Snow and ice are colder than the surrounding earth, so the better insulator wood would have kept the food cooler longer than than the poorer insulator stone would have.

On the other hand, if earth temperature was all they wanted -- no snow nor ice -- than stone would have worked better than wood.

StraitGate  posted on  2022-10-01   18:05:40 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  

#7. To: StraitGate (#5)

If snow and ice was readily available, it means it's wintertime so putting food in a dugout cooler would be counter productive as it should mean they could more easily just have a wooden box outside in the shade to keep their food cold. Putting in in a dugout box like that would actually keep it warmer as the ground temp would be warmer than the outside air.

If the idea is to cool food down, it's much more useful in summer months when outside temps are 80-90 degrees as a 50 degree ground temp would be the best option, and when ice would be generally unavailable, unless there were nearby mountains from which ice could be collected. It would also be easier to keep bugs away from the food, which would not be needed in wintertime.

Seems to me the archaeologists suggesting snow and ice usage might have it wrong.

Pinguinite  posted on  2022-10-02   13:47:47 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  

Replies to Comment # 7.

#8. To: Pinguinite (#7)

Agreed. Those are all good points.

Also, they might have wanted to keep the food from freezing hard in the dead of winter.

StraitGate  posted on  2022-10-02 14:50:51 ET  Reply   Untrace   Trace   Private Reply  

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