At the Copa: Women, Clothing, and Color Codes in Roman Taverns

On February 3, 326 CE, Constantine issued a legal clarification for Augustus’ Lex Julia de adulteriis, ruling that the wives of tavern owners (here labeled an uxor tabernarii) could be brought up on charges of adultery, but that the the barmaids working within the tavern could not be. Their lowly status as an ancilla orContinue reading “At the Copa: Women, Clothing, and Color Codes in Roman Taverns”

A Reversed Perspective: Looking at Greek and Roman Art from Behind(s)

A few weeks ago, I began to ponder the ways in which Greek and Roman art is presented within the modern museum context–and to ruminate on whether we put a bit too much emphasis on the perceived front of a piece of art rather than the side or back of it. This led to aContinue reading “A Reversed Perspective: Looking at Greek and Roman Art from Behind(s)”

Before MAGA: Mithras, Phrygian Caps, and the Politics of Headwear

My latest piece for Hyperallergic addresses the long history of red caps as symbols of politics, ethnicity, and identity. From Mithras to the Smurfs, there is a rich history of using identifying hats. This article was also an opportunity for me to post some photos of Mithras I have taken over the years–and to include a fewContinue reading “Before MAGA: Mithras, Phrygian Caps, and the Politics of Headwear”

Purple, Indigo, And The Slave Labor That Produced Expensive Dyes

Those who read this blog are keenly aware of how much I think about and study color. This certainly extends to the production of ancient dyes used to paint frescoes, to dye wool and linen, and even those pigments used for makeup. And, yes, I do also think about what the absence of color says.Continue reading “Purple, Indigo, And The Slave Labor That Produced Expensive Dyes”

From Dissertation to Book: A Few Things I Learned Over the Past 10 Years

I don’t tend to get overly personal on this blog very often. Although I adore social media (clearly), the first person singular is an uncomfortable voice when I address the public as a historian. I have always used banter about ancient or medieval history as a kind of protective tortoise shell that makes me seem extroverted. However, IContinue reading “From Dissertation to Book: A Few Things I Learned Over the Past 10 Years”

What Not To Wear: A Short History Of Regulating Female Dress From Ancient Sparta To The Burkini

Over on the Forbes blog, I talk about the history of dress codes for women. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think a lot about clothing, color, and historical dress. This post is reacting to the recent burkini bans in towns along the French Riviera by mentioning the fact that Sparta, Rome, theContinue reading “What Not To Wear: A Short History Of Regulating Female Dress From Ancient Sparta To The Burkini”

Recovering the Invisible Women of Ben-Hur (1880-2016)

Over on the Forbes blog, I discuss the new version of Ben-Hur released last week. Rather than dissecting the film in terms of historical accuracy, I chose to take a look at the women who contributed to the story since its publication in 1880. Despite a lack of strong female characters in the plot, there were someContinue reading “Recovering the Invisible Women of Ben-Hur (1880-2016)”

A Brief History Of Olympic Nudity From Ancient Greece To ESPN

Over on my Forbes blog, I wrote about the messages behind athletic nudity from 720 BCE to the Rio Olympics. Ever since Orsippus stripped off that loincloth at the 15th Olympiad, there has been a message accompanying athletic nudity. As I explore, it is important to keep this in mind when evaluating the worth of theContinue reading “A Brief History Of Olympic Nudity From Ancient Greece To ESPN”

Good Mourning: Roman Clothing, Courtrooms, and the Psychology of Color

Romans often reserved the dark colors of mourning for a trip to the courtroom. Usually it was the defendants who chose to clothe themselves in dark and ragged vestments–though some people broke with this habit. In a letter dated to 468 CE, the diplomat and bishop Sidonius Apollinaris discussed the treason trial of a friend and Praetorian prefect named ArvandusContinue reading “Good Mourning: Roman Clothing, Courtrooms, and the Psychology of Color”