The sun was dark for a year!

I had to cut out most of this forum scene describing historic events, but thought someone might find it more interesting than a simple chronology.

Rhythmic beating resounds from the street outside, getting louder all the time. People rush around, shouting. Boys drag each other out into the street as the sounds of drumming and heavy boots increase. Several young men sidle off through a side archway. What’s going on? Continue reading “The sun was dark for a year!”

Roman “Swiss Army Knife”

GR.1.1991The Romans were technically ingenious!

As well as a knife, spoon, and fork, this implement provides a spike, spatula and small pick. The spike might have helped in extracting the meat from snails, and the spatula in poking sauce out of narrow-necked bottles: the pick could have served as a tooth-pick.

While many less elaborate folding knives survive in bronze, this one’s complexity and the fact that it is made of silver suggest it is a luxury item, perhaps a useful gadget for a wealthy traveller.

Religion can make you stink!

Bad religion, that is.

In Late Antiquity, influenced by Platonic dualism, Christianity often promoted an other-worldliness. Let’s get out of this corrupt world as fast as possible so that we can enjoy disembodied bliss in heaven. And in the meantime, we despise all physical aspects of life. Continue reading “Religion can make you stink!”

Mending and recycling clothing in Late Antiquity

Originally posted at Visualising Late Antiquity by

Clothing in Late Antiquity was not the disposable commodity it is nowadays; it was valuable enough to be named in a will, used as surety for loans, or included in a dowry. Literary sources suggest that wealthy and high status individuals had many and beautiful clothes, however for the middle and lower classes clothing was an expensive necessity that was not to be wasted. This was true for the majority of the population, and ranged from enslaved and poverty stricken workers to the relatively prosperous members of the working middle class. While we might expect the former to have ragged and patched clothing, the evidence indicates that even members of the latter group might have needed used or recycled clothing as well as materials to embellish, mend and maintain their clothes.

A child’s wool tunic featuring skilful darning in matching wool (Whitworth Art Gallery T.8375). [Photo: Faith Morgan]
Faith Morgan’s examination of Late Antique garments shows that even high quality garments were …

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A thousand years too early

In the context of a UNESCO Week of Education for Sustainable Development, a team of historians developed a remarkable 3D-animation of life in the area of Marciana Marina during the Etruscan era (6th-5th century B.C.) Continue reading “A thousand years too early”

Who knows the answer?

How much was a pound of fresh mussels worth at the Fabricia market in 570 AD?Books

Writing a historic novel set on Elba in Late Antiquity involves a great deal of background research. Books do exist, which relate events and discuss political and economic developments, as well as religious and social aspects of life in those turbulent times.

But getting answers to some of the simple everyday questions is not always so easy: Continue reading “Who knows the answer?”

Food and Clothing, etc.

Food

Cereals, vegetables and fruits were certainly more common on the table than meat. But since these – unlike bones – are seldom preserved, this is difficult to verify. Common foods were certainty oats, spelt and einkorn; somewhat less common barley, rye, cone wheat, emmer, and millet. From these, porridge, grit and flour were made. Legumes, olives and various nuts, fruits and vegetables were also cultivated. The diet was enriched by collecting wild herbs.
Pigs were especially important as a source of meat. Milk was also produced, which was sometimes processed into cheese. Continue reading “Food and Clothing, etc.”