Chartrain Alain


Ph.D. student of the laboratory

Patrimonial curator in chief

Research interests

  • Laboratory member since 2013
  • Ph.D. directed by : A. Holl
  • Ph.D. titel :
    Manufacturing millstones at Orvieto in Antiquity : a technological approach in roman archaeology
  • Ph.D. project abstract :

The work, proposed for a PhD at the Nanterre Paris West University (among the UMR 7055 lab), is intended to carry out an object-based approach to Roman stone-work technology. The study deals with a series of small to large vertical millstones from the Orvieto fabrication (Italy), made from local upstanding outcrops of leucite-bearing lava run down from the Bolsena volcano during late Pleistocene times. The artefacts mainly belong to rough-outs at various stages and not always relevant to the Pompeian-type mill. They come from several recently detected working areas (still unexcavated -see the ORVIAMM project), from quarries too, located in the middle of the productive centre, as well as from people’s outdoor garden collections.

In parallel to a review of Roman manufacturing or even proto-industrialization, the work will establish and discuss the operative sequence that brings the single primary block in the quarry to the couple of millstones ready to be traded by the Paglia River and then by the Tiber valley up to Ostia, the Vesuvian area and the whole West Mediterranean wing of the Roman Empire. The operative sequence, devised to reflect a productive, social and cultural space, will be deliberately elaborated as a multi-dimensional one (actions, volumes and weights involved, waste and by-products, handling, operators, preparation marks etc.). In this way production is expected to be replaced within a workshop vision rather than an individual handwork vision, and to provide comparability between various millstone production centres. It is also intended to identify strategic moments as well as operation sequences likely to form cultural or chronological finger-prints that would lead to a technological reading in terms of technical adoption, innovation or tradition. The aim is also to achieve some aspects of roman or pre-roman productive organization, and maybe a few insights into the geometric practical thinking of these times.

  • Schedule for the Ph.D. defense : 2016

Curriculum Vitæ


- Italian summary

20 février 2015

Maison Archéologie Ethnologie
UMR 7055 Préhistoire et Technologie
21 Allée de l’Université
F - 92023 Nanterre cedex