“Renovatio imperii” on the Muensterhuegel of Basle? A reappraisal of mechanical mortar mixers
By Sophie Stelzle-Hueglin
Medieval Europe Paris 2007, 4th International Congress of Medieval and Modern Archaeology (2007)
Introduction: In 2004 the well preserved remains of a mortar mixer were excavated on the northern tip of the Basle Muensterhuegel. Pieces of charcoal in the mortar disc were dated by 14C to the 10th century AD. At the same period a Roman stone structure nearby was rebuilt. The king rather than the bishop seems to be responsible for this act of “renovatio imperii”; the bishop had his cathedral – the “Muenster” – and his living quarters further south on the same hill above the Rhine.
Mechanical mortar mixers are closely connected with the renaissance of stone architecture between the 8th and the 11th century AD. They are understood as remains of large building sites authorised by the ecclesiastical or secular rulers of the High Middle Ages. Ten years after the last article giving an overview, and with nearly double the number of examples, this phenomenon should be reassessed on the base of over 59 mortar mixers from 36 sites across Europe.