Grape crushing and fulling
So after the colloquium at the Ecole Française, and after finishing my Ph.D., I went to visit the Capitoline Museums, where I hadn't been for a long time, and walked right into this later third century CE sarcophagus of Quinta Flavia Severina, whoever that may have been. I almost overlooked it, but when I noticed the central scene on the front side of the sarcophagus, I quickly took some pictures. As you see, there are three men standing in a large vat crushing grapes. What is interesting, is that they actually make the same movements as fullers may have done, while trampling clothes. In my thesis I have suggested that one of the reasons why fulling under the foot was 'invented' somewhere and sometime in the ancient mediterranean might have been related to the all too common practice of grape-crushing. What is also very interesting in this scene is the fact that the workers hold each others' shoulders. In doing so, they stand more stable and thus can move more freely and work more efficient. This precisely is the reason why in most fulling workshops the installations for the first phase, in which this trampling technique is used, have low walls on both sides that could be used as supports: fullers could remain stable and thus move more freely and work more efficiently.