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SH Archive Roman Hypocausts are a myth

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dreamtime
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2020-05-08 13:31:47
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dreamtime

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roman-hypocaust-mosaic.jpg 1.jpg

Introduction
Big parts of Italy are free of forests nowadays. We are told this is because the Ancient Romans used the wood to heat the houses of the rich (which supposedely required a few slaves working 24/7 for each house). Historians assume the Romans heated their houses, because there are underground ventilation systems in the Roman villas.

toscany.jpg
You don't see a lot of trees in this photo because the Romans burned them all 2000 years ago

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Source

So we are looking at a mere 7000 pounds of wood for an entire day of heating.

To put 48 cubic feet into perspective, a Roman Villa couldn't even be heated for a single week with a cord of wood:

Cord_of_wood.jpg

The official timeline of hypocausts is surprisingly well known. A guy named Sergius Orata invented the thing 2000 years ago, but unfortunately it took 400 more long years to bring this complicated technology to perfection. As it is often the case with the official narrative, everything appears to be a bit backwards: It took the Romans a couple hundred years to not only heat baths, but also rooms. Wouldn't heating rooms have priority over heating baths?

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But Sergius Orata not only invented the hypocaust, he also was the first human to invent the cultivation of oysters. Below is a probably very accurate painting of Sergius teaching others how to cultivate oysters. Unfortunately it was only created more than 1000 years after his death, so may not be so accurate after all.

Sergius-orata-demonstrates_fishing_Medieval_French_Illustration.jpg

What we don't really know when it comes to hypocausts is how the Romans heated the air. Simply having large fires and inefficiently creating heat doesn't match with the high level of knowledge they had in other areas of life, even when seen through the mainstream eyes.

No Soot Anywhere
The hypocaust remains definitely don't look like smoke ran through it, as the stones are perfectly clean. In fact, I can't find a single image of a hypocaust stained and blackened with smoke. As far as I can tell there is no evidence at all that wood was burned, because we would see blackened stones at least in what is interpreted as a fireplace.

This is a contemporary medieval heating system in Spain called Gloria, an upgrade from the hypocaust, run with an open fire, and it simply leads the smoke under the stone floors and then through a chimney going straight up to the roof:

Cl8t81d.jpg

This is not the same as the Hypocaust system, because the Gloria system actually works, as the smoke more or less only runs through a traditional chimney. The space below the room and the chimney can be cleaned. But the Gloria system still wastes a lot of wood and hay. The walls are blackened with smoke, and it looks somewhat primitive.

This is how a typical Roman hypocaust opening is supposed to look:

41Te2a7.jpg

This opening is one of the few images that shows some kind of structure which could have been a 'fireplace', but it's hard to tell. Most images simply show the underground system and no big opening for making a fire.

This is the way the hypocaust was portrayed in the 18th Century, and this was based on the mainstream historians belief system, without having any archeological facts to support their idea:

6sfFvv2.jpg

The maintream theory goes that the heated smoke went through and left the building directly through pipes in the walls. This is extremely inefficient, but historians like this explanation, as it explains why so much wood was used.

We are then told that this system was improved after the fall of Rome in the middle Ages, with people suddenly discovering the simple fact that you drastically decrease fuel wasting when you slow the rate of combustion.

While the middle ages represented a decay in knowledge, in this case for some reason it was the other way round.

"Tubuli" and lack of soot staining
The Roman villa heated with a Roman Hypocaust would basically be like a giant chimney. They have to be cleaned regularly, otherwise they get clogged and there is a high chance of the soot to catch fire, so the entire building would quickly burn down. (That happens with chimney fires)

heating-hypocaust-diagram.jpg

And not only is there no soot in the basements that have been dug out, there's also no soot within the hollow bricks which technically can't be cleaned. One early author on the topic even accused the archeologists of destroying the evidence of any soot on the stones, because there wasn't any to be found.

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Studies in ancient technology
, Forbes, R. J.

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Source

Hypocaust Theory by Otto Krell
Otto Krell was an engineer who lived from 1866 - 1938, and he published a theory on Roman Hypocausts in the beginning of the 20th Century in a book called 'Altrömische Heizungen'. Of course he was swiftly ignored by the establishment, which favors theoretical and spaced-out academics over people with practical and logical abilities.

Krell, cited above, claimed that there weren't really any hypocausts, but that the system was simply built to make the house dry after building it.

quote2.png
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Attempt to recreate a hypocaust fire
So I have been doing some quick research, and it's a bit hilarious: link.

Archeologists tried to see how a hypocaust system works and lit up a fire below two Roman Villas. They tried to create a fire that would result in good heating temperatures for all rooms. But according to their paper, it is apparently to this day not possible to simply start a fire and heat a Roman villa without running into massive problems:

Summary of the paper:

So contemporary archeologists can't even make a primitive fire work to support their theories.

While they tried to reenact the whole 'heat a roman villa with fire' thing, they realized it is almost impossible to heat all the rooms in a balanced manner, but as a result the rooms were quickly stained with soot:

PJlnnaT.pngtbpUIGz.png


Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a problem with Roman Hypocausts:

There's a user on historum.com who has analyzed the whole situation and comes to the conclusion that a hypocaust is a nightmare which either kills the inhabitants by fire or toxic fumes, if it works at all.

Another attempt to recreate a Roman Villa Hypocaust system was a failure as well, increasing carbon monoxide concentration to dangerous levels:

Conclusion
There's no evidence connecting the ventilation system in so-called Roman villas with burning wood. The primary evidence of what this is about has been lost.

If the system was used for heating at all (I do think it was), it was probably powered by some now forgotten technology that was able to heat up the air below the houses, and the tubuli then pulled the air upwards to heat the entire house.

Acknowledging the missing evidence for wood burning in relation to Roman Hypocausts would inevitably lead archeologists to question the entire narrative of technological development in the Roman Era. That's why it was important for the mainstream dogma to force this consensus upon the public during the 20th Century, even though no one has ever seen any soot on any hypocaust remains. The research by Krell was ignored.

If wood wasn't used, there was a different source for energy which the 'Romans' had access to. Unfortunately no written evidence whatsoever has been left for us to discover the truth.

The biggest assumptions about Ancient Rome are all fabrications, based on nothing but twisted quotes from the ancient literature, and not supported by true archeological work. Be it the date of the destruction of Pompeii, the Roman sanitation systems or in this case the hypocausts, it's all made up.
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Sapioit

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It seems more likely that they were used to cool down places to lower than ground temperature. The stilts would serve as insulation, to reduce the amount of heat getting from the ground to the house, and air channels below the house and inside the walls would serve to first shade the underfloor area to lower air temperature, the walls would serve to funnel air into the entrance to the under-floor, the walls and floor would be cooled by the air, and the chimney pots would serve as a solar chimney to increase the speed of the air going out of the chimney. The darker colors of the chimney pots would absorb more sunlight and transform it into heat, with the metal ones being particularly good at transferring their heat to the air inside (and outside) them.

chimneypot-combo-57658371-141373980-crop-593777d73df78c537be5a292 (1).jpg
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I anything, the place for setting up a fire would be the chimney tops, to create air suction from inside the walls and below the house, to feed the fire. I wonder if there are platforms inside the chimney near the top, where wood could be placed. Though setting a few hands of grass ablaze on top of the chimney would have an effect, as well, just a lot shorter-lived. Basically, like in some images showing the air flow, but without fire or with the fire inside the chimney pots or right on top of the chimney pots.

But then again, maybe the air near the ground was hotter than the air a few meters above the ground, so a fire was used to pull air inside the from outside the chimney, to inside the chimney, to the walls, to the underground, then to the fire which pushed it outside the wall. This would require reversing the direction of air flow in the images showing the hypocausts' working mode.


8ddca3a722a9ad2e0817db6cc030a5f8.jpg
 
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_harris

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the concept of keeping the ground floor dry goes back many years and is very common...
most houses are built with some sort of air-gap between the ground and the actual floor, even basic old "workers" houses, where the construction quality is terrible, have this.

bearing in mind that very many contructions are not built on solid rock, it would make sense, that these "hypocaust" entrances would simply be a vent to keep an airflow around the whole house. effectively cooling the room in summer and stopping any moisture/damp from rising in winter! (also ground level is a lot colder than a raised platform in winter!)

even in winter in the UK, i've lived in victorian era terraced houses (they have "hypocausts"/ underfloor ventilation), and the wooden floors are not cold to walk on, especially compared with a concrete floor (in an extension for example).
Post automatically merged:

in this demonstration, most of the heat would absorb into the ground, the covering, and the walls of the house. and most of the remaining heat (with the smoke) would most likely take the easy route out.. up the stairs hehe... such an inefficient way to heat a space... and those romans certainly knew their shit, so this all seems quite an unlikely venture!
 
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Armouro

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The hypocaust seems like a neat idea until you get to the combustion issue, and the problems with sealing rooms and chambers.
The koreans make use of the Ondol, and the radiant heat idea worked for them (still does) because they were able to seal their sub-floors so well. The tech is used even today, in some pretty fun ways.

What strikes me, however, is the idea that the hypocaust "soot" issue is unresolved. Either there was no fire in those alcove at the edge of the structures and hypocausts are a myth indeed, or we are looking at an entrance and NOT seeing an insulated burn box somewhere.
If indeed the soot issue is solved, then the rest of the idea would be sound, and I can only see one bit of simple technology that fits the bill.


There is the second idea, the insulatory nature of trapped or stagnant air; which may have been key in those homes and could explain the channels in the walls.
But I think finding an insulated burn box is likely the only way the hypocaust could stand up to scrutiny.
 

Sapioit

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But I think finding an insulated burn box is likely the only way the hypocaust could stand up to scrutiny.
Rocket mass heaters work by creating a fire cyclone which to mix the unburnt fuel with unburnt oxygen, to burn more of the fuel, so the "smoke" is simply steam and CO2. As you said, without the firebox, we don't know what heated the rooms. Do keep in mind that some of the houses had a stove for cooking, and if you don't need more than one room heated, it's more than enough. Especially if the fireplace is located in the wall between the kitchen and bedroom, so when you cook you also heat the bedroom. But then again, we would need some research to confirm and deny the widespreadedness of this possibility. And I'm not going to research that, so feel free to do the research yourself, if you want to.

the concept of keeping the ground floor dry goes back many years and is very common...
most houses are built with some sort of air-gap between the ground and the actual floor, even basic old "workers" houses, where the construction quality is terrible, have this.

bearing in mind that very many contructions are not built on solid rock, it would make sense, that these "hypocaust" entrances would simply be a vent to keep an airflow around the whole house. effectively cooling the room in summer and stopping any moisture/damp from rising in winter! (also ground level is a lot colder than a raised platform in winter!)

even in winter in the UK, i've lived in victorian era terraced houses (they have "hypocausts"/ underfloor ventilation), and the wooden floors are not cold to walk on, especially compared with a concrete floor (in an extension for example).

in this demonstration, most of the heat would absorb into the ground, the covering, and the walls of the house. and most of the remaining heat (with the smoke) would most likely take the easy route out.. up the stairs hehe... such an inefficient way to heat a space... and those romans certainly knew their shit, so this all seems quite an unlikely venture!
Interesting. It makes a lot of sense, now that you mentioned it. I also thought of the possibility that they are for insulation from the cold, but quickly dismissed it due to the places where the hypocausts are found being in generally hotter climates. But now that I think about it, many of the hypocausts are in places which are very cold, and where it snows every winter, so it would makes sense that if they can insulate from the heat then they can insulate from the cold as well.

And that also explains why the towers below the tiles are so tall, since losing heat in cold winters is worse than gaining a bit more heat in the summers. And the openings are probably for insulation in the winter and natural draft (upwards or downwards, depending on if there is wind and in/from which direction it goes) in the summer and for the cats to be able to catch the rodents (mice, rats, etc.), lizards, and other unwelcome guests.

And the hypocausts could also be used in the winter as cold storage, being in contact with the ground. You just need a terracotta/pottery pot/container which can be sealed (unfired clay or even mud can be used for that), to keep the contents cool/refrigerated and safe from rodents and the like. Especially since some hypocausts have non-flat bottoms.

But back to heating, russian stoves, like bed-stoves in the east, also often have a sleeping place on top of it. It is especially useful since you don't need to heat more than the areas you will most often touch during the time you spend in the room. That means the bed, most of the time, since you will sleep there and can also simply spend the rest of your day on it for better comfort.

It's a cultural element present not only in Russia and East Asia, but also Eastern Europe. Even nowadays, the old houses which don't have the bed on the stove still have the bed right next to the stove, and the stove gets really hot during the winters. And thanks to the rocket-mass-stove, this architectural element is making a comeback in modern architecture.

Here are two articles talking in more detail about how things work nowadays, which mostly overlaps with the actual truth:
1. Sunbathing in the living room: oven stoves and heat walls
2. Restoring the Old Way of Warming: Heating People, not Places

I did look into the most efficient pathways for normal terracotta/masonry stove/heater. But I lost the images due to a HDD failure.

unnamed (17).jpg The-ONDOL-floor-heating-system.png

I have archived the .mhtml (format for webpage saved as a single file) file of the mentioned webpages, since I cannot upload the .mhtml directly: 1, 2, 3, 4
 

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Broken Agate

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Big parts of Italy are free of forests nowadays.
The British Isles are largely free of trees, as well. Easter Island hardly has any trees. There are huge swaths of Earth's surface with not only the trees missing, but the other vegetation, as well. I think all these trees met the same fate that they do nowadays: the big ol' logging industry got to them. Of course, that wasn't supposed to have existed back then, but that--combined with mass destruction by floods and advanced weaponry--makes a whole lot more sense than Romans burning all the trees to heat their homes.
 

Sapioit

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Big parts of Italy are free of forests nowadays.
The British Isles are largely free of trees, as well. Easter Island hardly has any trees. There are huge swaths of Earth's surface with not only the trees missing, but the other vegetation, as well. I think all these trees met the same fate that they do nowadays: the big ol' logging industry got to them. Of course, that wasn't supposed to have existed back then, but that--combined with mass destruction by floods and advanced weaponry--makes a whole lot more sense than Romans burning all the trees to heat their homes.
Add to that a lot of things being made out of wood which rots (boats, water pipes which don't rot as long as they are kept soaking wet, etc.), and simply setting things on fire by cutting trees, letting them dry elsewhere then getting them back in the forests in a line perpendicular to the wind at that time of the year to start massive forest fires, and using bombs to fall trees then induced seismicity and soil liquefaction caused by it to get the logs covered in dirt, and you get the coal deposits which are so plentiful today and which have been used for arguably hundreds of years to generate power for industry. And that's only the things which are closest to the mainstream-accepted story.
 

anselmojo

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Big parts of Italy are free of forests nowadays.
The British Isles are largely free of trees, as well. Easter Island hardly has any trees. There are huge swaths of Earth's surface with not only the trees missing, but the other vegetation, as well. I think all these trees met the same fate that they do nowadays: the big ol' logging industry got to them. Of course, that wasn't supposed to have existed back then, but that--combined with mass destruction by floods and advanced weaponry--makes a whole lot more sense than Romans burning all the trees to heat their homes.
Add to that a lot of things being made out of wood which rots (boats, water pipes which don't rot as long as they are kept soaking wet, etc.), and simply setting things on fire by cutting trees, letting them dry elsewhere then getting them back in the forests in a line perpendicular to the wind at that time of the year to start massive forest fires, and using bombs to fall trees then induced seismicity and soil liquefaction caused by it to get the logs covered in dirt, and you get the coal deposits which are so plentiful today and which have been used for arguably hundreds of years to generate power for industry. And that's only the things which are closest to the mainstream-accepted story.
I whole-heartedly agree in general, but would posit that with easter island it was probably the rats eating the seeds and extirpating the native seed disperser of the giant palm trees, leading to a collapse of the mycorrhizal relationships in the topsoil, leading to land slides, internecine warfare, etc....
 
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