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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I asked a Hippie for an Eagle

Kili and Kwee were real eagles. Nothing to be afraid of. Not like the fearsome AquilaAquila, who never took his eyes off you, always looking for a chance to punish you for things you hadn’t actually done.

Silvanus had spent many an hour watching them – masters of soaring – as they hunted for dormice or frogs, or repaired one of last year’s nests in preparation for a new family. Continue reading “I asked a Hippie for an Eagle”

Why the Geese?

Cerbonius and his geeseCerbonius was a colourful character — priest, refugee, hermit, bishop, bear-tamer, animal-lover, miracle-worker and sensational papal visitor — who was later canonised by the Roman Catholic Church. He is remembered for his intimate relationship with God, “a man with a venerable life, who gave evidence of great holiness”, as St. Gregory the Great wrote in his “Dialogues”. Continue reading “Why the Geese?”

Pillage and Rape

I’ve come to a juicy episode, part of chapter 6. And the strange thing is that I feel deep emotion for the character I’m creating. The chapter introduces a runaway slave, whom Silvanus finds in the woods. Listen to the story and let me know what you think…

“Aren’t you afraid of Jupiter and Mars and all the others? Do you pray to that god of yours?”

“Well, yes, but I don’t really know much about him.” I notice tears forming in his eyes and his voice begins to tremble. “My Mother used to talk a lot about him. Before they… killed her.”
Continue reading “Pillage and Rape”

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”

Successful Trip

The forecast said rain or heavy rain for each day of the week I’d planned to be in Elba for my background research. But this was my only chance and the bookings couldn’t be cancelled. In any case, Silvanus experienced bad weather – very bad weather – so why shouldn’t I? Continue reading “Successful Trip”

In the steps of San Cerbone

TicketsAt long last I’ve planned my next trip to make friends with Silvanus and Cerbonius. It means travelling not only over 700 km south but more than 1440 years back in history. It promises to be exciting.

Unfortunately, I’ll only be a week on Elba, and that will probably pass quickly. For most of the time I’ll be in Marciana, coincidentally over San Cerbone’s Day, 10th October. I wonder what I’ll learn from him…