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:

  • Did people speak Latin or a local dialect?
  • How many denarii were there to one solidus in those days?
  • What sort of food was provided for overnight guests in a caupona?
  • Could country boys read? What books were available? Were they made of parchment? Scrolls or codices?
  • Were pagan festivals still celebrated? Did Church and state authorities tolerate them or object?
  • What taxes did ordinary people have to pay? How were they collected? Was everyone registered and their payments recorded?
  • At what age were youths recruited to the army to fight invading Lombards?
  • What sort of goods were traded to/from abroad?
  • What were clothes made of?
  • Were there wild bears or wolves on Elba?
  • How did people light fires?
  • What were country people’s houses like?

I’m building up a library of helpful tomes and URLs, but, even then, it’s not always easy to find a specific answer…

2 Replies to “Who knows the answer?”

  1. Dear Viktor Ive been browsing on your blog and its quite interesting and stimulating!

    On the questions and “mysteries” about late antiquity, you might find some answers in places like the Pelican (or Penguin) History of the Church, volume 1 and 2 and the Penguin History of the Romans ( not exact title) – they sometimes give you insights on matters such as youre looking for. But maybe youve already looked… à bientôt et bonne continuation!

    1. Salut François. Thanks for your remarks. Why don’t you subscribe to the blog and be sure not to miss further posts…

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