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Swiss Scientists Experiment With Possible Roman Refrigerator

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Switzerland Roman refrigeratorBASEL, SWITZERLAND—According to a report in The Local, a team of researchers led by Peter-Andrew Schwarz of the University of Basel is experimenting with a stone-lined shaft discovered dug into the ground at the Roman site of Augusta Raurica, which is located on the Rhine River in northern Switzerland. Schwarz and his team are trying to determine whether the shaft may have been used by the Romans for cold storage during the summer months, since they are known to have used similar structures at other sites to chill cheese, wine, oysters, and other foods. For their first attempt, the scientists filled the shaft with snow all at once, but found that temperatures within the shaft rose above the freezing point even during the winter months. When Schwarz and his team instead gradually filled the shaft with snow and ice blocks, the snow lasted until June. For their current attempt at keeping the shaft cool, the researchers have borrowed the method employed by ice-makers on the island of Majorca—they will pack layers of snow about one foot deep into the shaft and separate them with layers of straw. The scientists will monitor temperatures in the shaft over the coming summer. For more, go to “Off the Grid: Geneva, Switzerland.”

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