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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The Building of Eumachia


1st c. AD


The largest building on the Forum belonged to a woman!

A stone inscription reads : "Eumachia, daughter of Lucius, a public priestess, in her own name...made this building with her own money and dedicated it to Duty and Harmony."

Eumachia was born into one of the wealthiest families of Pompeii.

Her father had made his fortune in bricks, tiles and amphorae and she married into one of the oldest families of the city.

Her wealth and influence helped her to become a priestess - as well as the patron of tanners, dyers and cloth-makers.

It's thought that the building was a cloth and dye market, and the headquarters of the guild of cloth merchants.

But what would Romans wear?

Everyone would wear light linen tunics.

The men's would be knee-length and short sleeves, while the women's would go down to their ankles and be long-sleeved.

Rich Romans could customize their tunics with silk and embroideries.

For formal occasions, all Romans would wrap a woollen toga over their tunic.

These were much thicker and typically 7 meters-long!

Togas were so expensive, hot and uncomfortable that most people would only wear them on special occasions.

Fun fact : adding purple to a tunic or toga was a mark of the highest distinction!

Only emperors, generals and consuls could wear full purple.

Nobles could wear purple stripes.

Romans could therefore recognise a person's rank by what they wore.

Phoenician purple was said to be the most coveted colour in the Roman empire!

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)



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