EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts
Vol. 20, EMS2023-49, 2023, updated on 06 Jul 2023
EMS Annual Meeting 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reconstruction of Emissions from Pottery Kilns in the Roman Period

Clemens Drüe1, Herdick Michael2, and Schaaff Holger2
Clemens Drüe et al.
  • 1Universität Trier, Umweltmeteorologie / environmental meteorology, Trier, Germany (druee@uni-trier.de)
  • 2Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA), Main und Mayen, Germany

Reconstruction of Emissions from Pottery Kilns in the Roman Period

Clemens Drüe (1), Michael Herdick (2) and Holger Schaaff (2) 

1) Universität Trier, Umweltmeteorologie / environmental meteorology, Trier, Germany (druee@uni-trier.de)
2) Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA), Mainz and Mayen, Germany

Thanks to modern filtering techniques, the loading of exhaust gases from industrial plants in Europe has been steadily decreasing over the last sixty years. Prior to that, emissions had been steadily increasing since the Middle Ages. Although the effects of industrial metal production in ancient Rome and China can be traced worldwide, most emissions before the modern era were negligible on a global scale. On a regional or local scale, however, pollution may have been severe, as historical sources suggest. Given the complete lack of data, however, it is not clear a priori whether the small size and production volume of the historical industry or the lack of pollution control combined with the high number of small sources is the predominant factor.

Roman pottery kilns provide a rare opportunity to shed light on this question. Experimental studies in reconstructed kilns of the Leibniz Center for Archaeology in Mayen, Germany, provide data on productivity and fuel consumption in this important industry. Such pottery kilns were located throughout the Roman Empire. However, production in Mayen, Germany, was of particular importance because of the high thermal shock resistance of the goods produced. 
Another important pottery production place was in and around Herforst (municipality of Speicher) near Trier. Recent studies have suggested that there existed  more than 200 roman potteries. This makes it one of the largest known industrial areas of antiquity.

We have used these experimental data to predict one year's emissions. Based on the resulting source strengths, we simulated the pollutant load using AUSTAL, Germany's regulatory model for emission forecasting.  Various kilns in different locations in and around the city of Mayen as well as several of the scattered kilns in the Roman industrial area near Herforst were simulated. Initial results show a strong dependence on night-time weather conditions and suggest that air pollution was not negligible and may have influenced the potteries' choice of location.


How to cite: Drüe, C., Michael, H., and Holger, S.: Reconstruction of Emissions from Pottery Kilns in the Roman Period, EMS Annual Meeting 2023, Bratislava, Slovakia, 4–8 Sep 2023, EMS2023-49, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2023-49, 2023.