Weekend Reading: A Four-Tunic Day

Well, it’s snowing here in South Shields. Not as much as it is in some parts of the world, true: but enough for me to wonder whether I really like my child enough to walk up the hill and pick him up from school. [Update: I decided that I did – but it was close.]


Snowy rooftops (and bins, because Friday is bin day!) seen through my library window.


Cue much reading about snow and Romans. For instance:

This, from Housesteads: ‘You might think that our unpredictable weather and often harsh winters would have been a shock to the troops.  It’s a common misconception that the Romans stationed along Hadrian’s Wall came from the warmer Mediterranean climate of Italy. Actually, the troops at Housesteads generally came from Northern Europe’ … but more importantly, when there’s lots of rain or snow, you can watch the Roman toilets flush at Housesteads!

This, from the Roman Military Research Society: ‘a favourite Roman method of keeping out the cold was to wear more than one tunic at a time. The emperor Augustus supposedly routinely wore no less than four tunics at a time (in addition to his toga presumably). Soldiers would certainly have done this. It would not be outside the realms of possibility that a Roman soldier might have purchased a locally made long sleeved tunic and worn it under his Roman type tunic’.

And an interesting point from Vindolanda: ‘The name ‘Vindolanda’ is poetic, and it can be translated to mean ‘white field or white moor’ and it gives us two important clues about life and landscape in the 1st century in the area. The first is that the first Roman forts was likely built upon a farmer’s field. This field sat on a promontory surrounded by steep sides and streams, a good defensive position. The second clue, later to be reinforced by later discoveries, was that fort building was a winter activity, and the white of the ‘white field’ may have been in reference to snow or frost.’

Now I have a mental image of newly-arrived Roman soldiers slogging up the hill in the middle of winter to the site of the future Roman Fort at Arbeia, wearing many tunics and looking despondently at fields covered in frost. Not much different to me walking to school wearing several jumpers, then!

Frosty Arbeia, early this morning.


It wasn’t all bad though. At least they could take pride in their toilets.




On another subject entirely – fancy an entertaining day or two in Newcastle? Then do come along to the Authority in Classics conference (Feb 21-22), where I’ll be giving a paper on Classics blogging. (Look: I’m blogging about a paper about blogging. How fashionably meta!) All support appreciated, including but not limited to: cheering, requesting autographs and organising a Mexican wave. I’m nervous about this one!


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This week’s links from the Classics Internet


From Classical Studies Support

On Classics and Harry Potter – Classical Pottering

Here’s a link another ‘snow’ post, from February last year: Snow falls…



Greeks in space – The Express 

Reassembling artefacts – Cyprus Mail 

An archaeological mystery woman – National Geographic 

Goddesses in the Olympic games – Haaretz 

Blackpool Classics – Blackpool Gazette 

A golden age of finds at Pompeii – Apollo Magazine

More Elgin Marbles controversy – The Guardian 

… and the Creative Act Movie – Sententiae Antiquae 



Comment and opinion

Classics at the OU in the 1970s – OU Classical Studies Blog

Classics, colour and Pygmalion – Society for Classical Studies 

Non-elite Latin – Sententiae Antiquae

Janus the ‘influencer’ – Caveat Lector: Reading Ancient Rome

Translation as the ‘after-life’ of a text – Society for Classical Studies

Considering Homer’s Calypso – Electric Literature

George Herbert’s Latin – In Medias Res 

Reference and reception in novels – Ars Longa

Lectio divina in universities – The SEDA Blog 

Athens and memory – The New York Times 

The idealized ship – Kosmos Society 

Romulus and Remus in the movies – Classical Reception Studies Network 

Roman revenge porn – Prospect 

Syme and Caesar – The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World 

Three months of archaeology (launches today) – What’s Up Archaeology 

Art through toys – Medium

Archaeology and tidying up – Forbes 

‘Western Civilization’ – Pharos 

Pedantry in Classics – Sententiae Antiquae 

Roman old age and death – Classics For All 

Last meals – Forbes

Ancient awards ceremonies – The Spectator 

Racism and responsibility in Classics – Eidolon 

Being a Roman re-enactor – Eagles and Dragons 




Podcasts, video and other media

Luis Alfaro on Classics in the community – Society for Classical Studies 

Sherd nerds – Penn Museum

In search of the Phoenicians – Torch, Oxford 

Classics in Leicester – Classics For All 

Lego Forum of Augustus – Beyond the Brick 

Interview with Emily Hauser – Itinera Podcast 

Myth and Aquaman – MythTake 

Interview with Jackie Murray – Classics Confidential



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