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TORCULARIUM a shed or out-house where the presses for oil or wine were worked (Cat. 12;--Col. 12.52, § § 3-10). The descriptions left by Latin writers on agriculture are confirmed and illustrated by the remains of an actual torcularium, discovered at Stabiae. The central part (probably the forum) has a wide open gangway for men or mules carrying in the fruit: in it stands the TRAPETUM for separating the pulp and the stone of the olive: on either side of the central compartment we find a paved chamber separated off by a low stone rim or coping, so that they form two shallow basins: it seems probable to us that these chambers were the lacus of Tib. 1.1, 10, Ov. Fast. 4.888, Col. 12.18, Plin. Ep. 9.20, though Rich and Blümner think differently: the pavement of each chamber slopes in one direction to a point where leaden troughs conduct the liquid into earthenware jars (labra) sunk in the floor: in each chamber (or lacus) was placed a press [TORCULAR] for oil or wine; the sockets for receiving the various parts (arbores, stipites) described in the preceding article are seen in the floor, and there is an under-chamber where bolts (pedicini) held fast the arbores, &c. in their sockets. The juice flowed from the presses along the troughs of the lacus into the sunken jars above described, from which the capulator ladled out the wine or oil into smaller jars to be placed in the store-room (cella vinaria, cella olearia). It need not be supposed that there were always two chambers and two presses; but it was a natural arrangement, because the trapetum worked faster than the torcular; so much so that we are told also of an annexe, called tabulatum (Col. 12.52), a sort of small store-room with a number of small tanks (lacusculi) lined with stone, in which the sampsa or olive pulp was stored, if it could not go directly into the press: the yield (coactura) of each day was placed on a sort of wooden rack in a separate lacusculus, so that the watery liquid (amurca) might flow away through a pipe in the bottom of the tank.

When the torcularium was intended for wine, the basin or lacus was as above described, but in the centre compartment the vat for treading the grapes [see VINUM] took the place of the [p. 2.851]trapetum: the juice trodden out flowed either into jars or, like that afterwards pressed in the torcular, by an arrangement of troughs into the lacus, and thence into the labra. The words of Isid. Orig. 15.6, “forum est locus ubi uva calcatur,” will best agree with the view which we take here, that the centre compartment was called forum: not only is the name itself hard to understand if we assign it to the side chambers or basins, as Rich and Blümner have done, but these side chambers, which we take to be the lacus, were already occupied by the torcular. (Blümner, Technol. 1.343 ff.; Rich, s.v. Schneider, ad Script. B. R., tab. v. and vi.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 9.20
    • Ovid, Fasti, 4
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