Wim De Clercq (Ghent University), Salt for the Soldiers. The technology and economy of Roman salt-making in Northern Gaul.
Historical and archaeological sources bear extensive testimony of the large-scale extraction of salt in the most Northern parts of Gaul. Several find complexes in the coastal areas of the civitates Menapiorum and Morinorum (now Belgium and France) as well as textual evidence attested in Italy and Gaul point to the importance of this resource-exploitation in a remote area of the Roman Empire. The technological and social organisation of the extraction strategies of this seemingly inexhaustible resource in a difficult landscape-context as well as the complex social and economic mechanisms that seem to have been at stake in the transaction of the salt to the military and civil consumers will be at the centre of our talk. It will be assessed whether technological constraints in the salt-works, environmental conditions in a continuously changing landscape or even the social context were putting constraints on the exploitation of salt. Specific attention will also be drawn in this context to the specific use of various types ceramic containers and supports in the salt works.