> One that quarries columns obviously. Yes, we in the modernQuote
> One of the ostraca fragments is a communication between
> the quarry and the procurator admitting that the column is
> ready for shipment but the quarry administrator doesn't know
> what quarry it's from. In another fragment the quarryman asks
> the procurator for "more iron" to presumably speed up getting a
> single column ready. What kind of quarry is this that isn't
> equipped to quarry the stones that are on order?
> world never make mistakes or need more material to complete a
> job. Come on man. But strange you would cite an ostraca that
> clearly refers to quarrying and columns yet still think this is
> not evidence? A broken record, but this make no sense. The
> ostraca speak extensively of the quarrying activities which as
> you unknowingly note the overwhelming majority date to the time
> of Hadrian which is also the most active period of using the
> stone from MC in the Roman Empire.
Note quite. I think you may be overreading. Here is the complete inscription, per Russell (P.212):
I presume the parenthetic phrases are speculation of the translator to replace unreadable inscriptions. There is no reference to quarrying any stone. In fact there is no reference to actually doing any work on a stone at all. "Finished" could simply mean it's packed up on the transporter and ready to roll, but could also mean trimming a pre-existing column to the procurator's current specifications. There is no specific indication of what they intended to use the "steel and charcoal" for -- it makes no mention of whether the "steel" should be chisels, axles, spokes, nails, tie-bands, etc. I'm wondering why he didn't specify what form of "steel" he needed.Quote
To Antonius Flavianus, prefect, from the foreman and the stonemasons, Sir, greetings. With the help of our Lord Sarapis and the Tyche of Claudianus and your Tyche we announce that we have finished one of the 25 foot columns on the 26th day of Hathyr. If you please, Sir, and with the accord of our master the procurator, if steel and charcoal be sent to us, we shall finish the other one faster, if we can work without hindrance. From the moment you send us (it, and if) all the infidels (will leave us in peace)...(we shall be able to finish it).
And so we are left with the distinct possibility that the "steel and charcoal" may instead be intended simply as bribes to keep the "infidels" away so they can finish their work. To speculate alternative unreadable phrases: "From the moment you send us the bribes, all the infidels will leave us in peace...and we will be allowed to finish our work". After all, there were many reports of the locals causing repeated disruptions in the workflow, and it's certainly logical that the quarry would tend to resist giving away its own precious tools as bribes to keep the locals at bay or else they would soon run out of tools. The generic request for "steel and charcoal" might simply indicate that ANY form form of steel would suffice as a trinket to keep the infidels away. But wasn't M. Claudianus akin to a military operation with a so-called "fort" there that allegedly protected the quarry operation?
And regarding the source of the column:
And they were ready to ship the 2nd column 19 days later, but apparently it was either a broken/repaired column or the result of conjoining two pre-existing shorter columns to form one longer column which resulted in this inscription:Quote
You write, Sir, to tell you from which quarry. We do not know the name of the quarry, but it is the quarry far from praesidium, lying towards Porphyrites, which we have given the name 'Philoserapis'. When we were well arrived at the quarry...
We have received your letter, Sir, in which you reproach us about the caurasia [broken stone?] because we have made then conterminous [fitted them together?]. However, as we (had learnt) from your letter that there was iron in the store, we used all the colour-mixing, like the people of old (taught us).
"Steel and charcoal"?
"People of old"?
Fascinating material, these ostraca.
How can any of us ever know, when all we can do is think?