Fun fact

Reading a history of the late Roman empire by Peter Heather. Enjoying it, talks a lot about the economy etc.

As an aside he tells us that the marble mines all pretty much closed down in the 390s. Constantine has gone Christian 60 years before, but paganism still thrived. And it was really only in the 390s that all the pagan temples got pulled down leading to a glut of second hand marble on he market, thus to the closure of the mines.

Sorta like what’s happened to the US steel industry really. So much scrap is now recycled that many of the blast furnaces have closed….

18 thoughts on “Fun fact”

  1. I’ve got his Fall Of The Roman Empire. I must admit I can’t remember what his conclusions were but that I can remember that while I liked the book, I wasn’t entirely convinced by whatever those conclusions were.

  2. So all the iron ore mines have closed and Mittal doesn’t have two rupees to rub together, eh Timmy? Oh woe!

  3. And of course you don’t need furnaces to recycle steel. You just bash it into shape. You new car looks a bit like Fred Flintstone’s, but that’s the hot new look in Detroit these days.

  4. And blast furnaces were closing in the USA in the ’70s because most (not all) of the steel used in manufacturing in the USA was recycled scrap using electric arc furnaces. Hencethe name “rust belt” for what used to be the iron belt in north-eastern USA

  5. It should never be forgotten that the marble mines were deliberately closed down by Maggius Thatcherus in a deliberate attack on the unions.

  6. Recycling marble?!

    Good luck with that…

    “Yes, it used to be a Doric column, but now we use it as a work surface in the kitchen. Knives don’t scratch it, but you have to balance the plates on it just so…”

  7. @John miller

    I’ve seen plenty of wooden worktops and I’m pretty sure those trees started out in a similar shape to a column…

    cause, you know, things can be slice and trimmed. Right?

    (or did I miss the sarcasm?)

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    John miller – “Recycling marble?! Good luck with that…”

    Time to re-read Evelyn Waugh’s Helena?

  9. @ John Miller
    Forty-odd years ago i got transferred to “our” London office. One of the head honchos (in his spare time he was a member of the Council of the Institute of Actuaries) was quite happy to chat to bright juniors and told me that following the (then most recent) refurbishment the only marble in the office was on the stairs which comprised taken off the walls. I walked up to the fifth floor a lot (a bit over twice a day on average) for nearly twenty years and they showed no noticeable signs of wear. So I believe marble can be recycled (just don’t spill the vinegar).

  10. @ dearieme
    Fifty-odd years ago I read Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (over a long succession of breakfasts – sixth-formers were allowed to read at breakfast which mostly meant pseudo-intellectuals reading “The Times” so I read something *serious*); Gibbon’s anti-Christian bias got very clear from volume 3 onwards, and he clearly blamed the decline on Christianity making the Empire go soft, but he mentioned very little persecution of pagans by Christians, from which I inferred that there hadn’t *been* an awful lot..

  11. I read Gibbons Decline and Fall a couple of summer hols back.
    It really is a bloomin’ stonka, most highly recommended.

  12. @john77 – and he clearly blamed the decline on Christianity making the Empire go soft yes, he does, I however wondered about an alternative explanation, that the empire went soft from the inside (for entirely inexplicable reasons, because people ) and thus fell to the nicey nicey Christians.

    I wonder that we are currently living in our own inexplicable decline into softiness.

  13. @ johnny bonk
    Clearly that is an alternative explanation. For a couple of centuries a lot of Christian males took refuge in the army because there was less persecution there, so the softer Christians and tougher pagans fought the enemy and over a few generations the death rate in the legions reduced the %age of toughg pagans.
    I do not pretend to know the answer but it is a question that somebody should have Gibbon a century or so before we were born.

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