vii Artifacts from Ancient Rome explores the history of 45 artifacts that cover most areas of Roman life, from dress to cooking, from dice games to theater, from bakers’ ovens to the baths. Chronologically, most of the ar- tifacts covered here date to the last centuries BCE and the first centuries CE, but since many of these object types enjoyed long lives in the Roman world, they can tell us a great deal about the centuries before and after this period too. In some respects, the age of the items is an accident of history, of what has survived and what we have found. Many, for exam- ple, hail from the ashes of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the famous cities buried by volcanic ash in 79 CE. These artifacts can act as primary sources—that is, as documents written at the time—and can be used in much the same way not only as windows into a culture, but also as exam- ples and evidence in assignments. Several things about these items may be striking. Some artifacts, such as razors, have changed little in the last 2,000 years others, such as strigils, are no longer used or recognizable. Cosmetic containers are still much the same size togas, on the other hand, have been out of fashion in the Western world for centuries. Thus, the objects that people used in the past are at once familiar, since we are peo- ple too, and foreign, since today’s world is so different in key ways from that of Rome. ORGANIZATION The book is organized into two chief sections. In the first section, there is an Introduction that provides a brief examination of the period covered by the artifacts within this volume. Since many of the artifact types were in use for decades, if not centuries, the Introduction covers in broad strokes the ori- gins of Rome in the eighth century BCE to the retaking of Italy by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century CE. The Chronology of Events, which sets out selected dates and their significance, provides further information about this history. Few of the individual artifacts, if any, in this book were in constant use during the span of Roman history, but each is representative of its type, PREF ACE
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