1st Century BCE – 1st Century CE
Category: Ancient Rome
1st Century BCE – 1st Century CE
Many of the earrings found in Ancient Rome are based on Hellenistic styles. The hoop and drop earrings being quite popular in the archeological record. Below are some of the different types. (The abbreviated version)
No one really knows when fans first came into being but we do see them early and can only suspect that they came about even earlier. Some have even survived, a thin gold fan (chased – hammered metal) was found in the grave of Tutankhamen from 1350 BCE, a woven bamboo fan from the 2nd century BCE was found in China, and then there is the fan of Queen Theodolinda made of purple vellum from the 6th century CE. In Ancient Rome fans or flabellum served a few purposes: ceremonial to waft/ignite incense, to beat grain, fan cooking flames, and of course to keep cool… cooler.
The primary style of necklace that has survived to this day, and one’s we see in images are the chain and bead style but there was also chains with some sort decoration and strung beads. The chain and bead style consisted of glass beads, gems, and/or pearls connected by wire loops. They could also have leaves, amulets, figures, or other shapes on them. String necklaces consist of glass beads, pearls, and gems or any combination therein. I theorize that linen was used as string and finds from Egypt find that linen was used to this effect. The difficult part is discerning the pattern as string doesn’t last the stress of time (Egypt is an exception). Luckily, there seems to be fairly regular patterns on the chain and bead necklaces of an every other type style. There are also images of what appears to be pearl necklaces. It’s plausible that the same type of bead was strung on a necklace as well. Lastly, there are chain necklaces. There are more details about chains in Part III but we will briefly go over them here as well.
Rhytons are a glass drinking vessel that extends beyond the Roman Empire and the location. There are several styles, but at its core a rhyton is shaped like a horn and has animal motifs. A horn is by no means a unique design for a drinking vessel as drinking horns go back to neolithic times, and then up through Roman times, the Norse culture, and up to the Middle Ages. A curious quirk about some is that they have an opening at the tip of the horn. This allows for drinking from the bottom (see the picture below). This could be a more time specific feature but it appears in finds from not only Ancient Rome but Paratha, Syria, and Malta as well. Their purpose is, Were they used for ceremonies, festivals, or just for drinking. With the opening at the bottom, what seems to be a Roman feature/influence, the drinker was logically prohibited from neglecting their drink. However, being that it was Rome, some speculate that a servant (likely a slave) would have to stand nearby with their finger over the hole.
The single loop-in-loop chain is one of the oldest chain styles. Some of the oldest examples date back to 3,000 BCE from the burials at Ur. The simple loop-in-loop style stayed static until around the time of the Hellenistic period. During this time the Greeks and Etruscans expanded on the single loop-in-loop to create a double loop-in-loop, pinched loop-in-loop, two- way double loop-in-loop, three-way double loop-in-loop, “S” Link, woven loop, and other variants. The chains found from this time often have something elaborate about them, either a clasp or a pendant. Here are some examples:
The Romans, not unlike their predecessors, favored certain gems and metals over others. They also shaped gems and did do some intricate gold work, which paled in comparison to predecessors. As for gems, the winners are listed below in no particular order.
Please keep in mind that this is a working document and I will be adding more.
University of Atlantia ・ June 12th, 2021
The fascinum (or phallus or Divine Penis) was a cult like object. It was used to ward off evil (the evil eye) and for protection, versus something sexual as one may think. It was celebrated, worshiped, and its likeness was used in celebrations. It has been found depicted on rings, pendants, wind chimes, and buildings (often thought to be brothels but more likely to protect the residents of the home). Carvings were also found in places of possible danger such as on street corners and bridges. They were also placed on the front of carriages and possibly worn by soldiers for presumably the same reason. Rings and pendants were worn by boys (sometimes even bestowed on them at birth) to protect their health and virility. Overall, the fascinum, when worn especially, was believed to be a powerful form of apotropaic magic. Given its prevalence it was obviously an important part of Roman society. It can be surmised that the reason it has been omitted from modern literature is due to its modern taboo nature. Luckily its importance and meaning can be found in cultural, religious, and archaeological finds. So, if you’re worried about the evil eye…
The images of Pompeii have given us an unprecedented glimpse into the past. When Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, time froze. And while there is always the possibility, and likelihood, of artistic license, these images provide us with a well preserved glimpse into how they inhabitants dressed, their habits, beliefs, social environment, and status.
A list I’m continually adding to for the Roman persona.
*Be aware that the exact meaning of some Latin words can be problematic at times. Transliteration can be difficult especially when the names of colors and garments were sometimes used to describe a position, job, social status/class, etc. Please derive and revise your conclusions with as much evidence as possible.
Also known as the Fayum Mummy Portraits.