“Kill your darlings!” they say. Oh, how it hurts to have to cut carefully crafted episodes out of my manuscript, just to comply with the expected word count.
Here is one such incident that that had to go. It took place on the Isle of Capraria, very near the end of the book. Continue reading
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
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 …
The Byzantine Monetary System in the Sixth Century
Gold Solidus, ca. 500 AD
The gold solidus (4.55 g) was the basic unit of the coinage, all other coins being valued in relationship to it. The solidus weighed 1/72 of a Roman pound, or 24 carats. Continue reading
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
How much was a pound of fresh mussels worth at the Fabricia market in 570 AD?
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
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
Writing a historical novel means doing a great deal of background research. Discovering the Mediaeval Market in Bremgarten, Aargau, where innumerable stands display a wide variety of crafts as practised in the Middle Ages, was a delight. You can see some of them in my gallery: wheelwright, armourer, smith, cutler, apothecary, baker,… Continue reading
The Romans had two-story houses with door locks, underfloor heating, running hot water, private mills, and silver dishes! And toilets-for-two next to the stove in the kitchen!