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Roman cement strengthened with wine

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Roman cement consisted of pieces of volcanic tuff and bricks connected  with a lime-lime mortar
Roman cement consisted of pieces of volcanic tuff and bricks connected with lime mortar. | Autor: Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab

Lucius Aurelius Avianius Symmachus – Prefect of Rome from 364 CE – supervised the constructions under water. In order to achieve cement strength under water, some amount of wine was added to it.

However, such use of wine met with great criticism from the Roman society, which at that time suffered from a large deficiency of grapes. With time, riots in the city appeared (among others, the Symmachus house was set on fire), which forced the prefect to leave Rome. He returned in 376 CE, when the Senate issued an appropriate decree.

It is also worth mentioning his son – Quintus Aurelius Symmachus – who faced similar situation when food supplies from Africa were temporarily interrupted.

  • Peter Heather, Upadek cesarstwa rzymskiego
  • Michael Whitby (red.), Homo Viator: Classical Essays for John Bramble

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