Analysis and Reconstruction of a Platform with Ball Bearings in Roman Ships of Nemi Lake

  • M. CeccarelliEmail author
  • P. G. Molari
  • S. Ceccarelli
  • C. Conti
  • G. Martines
Conference paper
Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 37)


The paper presents results of a renewed study of the ball bearings that were found with Roman ships of 1st century AD when they were digged out from Nemi lake near Rome in 1930s. The investigation is focused in analysing the mechanical design of the remained ball bearings with a speculation on their manufacturing and in reconstructing a feasible solution of their use in a platform or guide to move heavy loads on the ship. Results are reported both as historical considerations and technical evaluations via simulations.


History of roman machines History of ball bearings Reconstruction of ancient machines Performance evaluation of ancient machines 



The authors wish to thank the Museum of Roman ships in Nemi, the Archive of Rome Soprintendenza at Altemps Palace, the Archive of Italain Navvy in Rome, for providing information and archival documents that are the basis of the present work. The photographic work by Zeno Colantoni is gratefully acknowledge as part of the analysis investigation. The PhD student Matteo Russo is thankfully acknowledged for the computation of the FEM simulations. The team of Prof. Marco Marinelli from Tor Vergata University in Rome is gratefully acknowledged for the data acquisition during a campaign of investigation on the ball bearings in the museum of Nemi on 14 April 2017.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Ceccarelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. G. Molari
    • 2
  • S. Ceccarelli
    • 3
  • C. Conti
    • 4
  • G. Martines
    • 4
  1. 1.LARM, University of Cassino and South LatiumCassinoItaly
  2. 2.University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.GARRRomeItaly
  4. 4.Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del TurismoRomeItaly

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