Roman Kiddies’ Footwear

Some of the coverage of the recent AIA/APA shindig in the popular press is starting to trickle to the

University of Western Ontario

University of Western Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

e-waves, including a very interesting account of a talk by Elizabeth Greene of the University of Western Ontario on the ‘status’ seen in Roman children’s footwear. Here’s the incipit:

Even on the farthest-flung frontiers of the ancient Roman Empire, the footwear made the man ­— and the kid.
Children and infants living in and around Roman military bases around the first century wore shoes that revealed the kids’ social status, according to new research presented here Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. The teeny-tiny shoes, some sized for infants, not only reveal that families were part of Roman military life, but also show that children were dressed to match their parent’s place in the social hierarchy, said study researcher Elizabeth Greene of the University of Western Ontario.
“The role of dress in expressing status was prominent even for children of the very youngest ages,” Greene said.
Treasure trove of footwear
Just as today’s modern kid might rock a pair of shoes covered in their favorite superheroes, or that light up with every step, ancient Roman kids of well-off families wore more decorative shoes than their commoner contemporaries, Greene’s research reveals. Over 4,000 shoes have been found at Vindolanda, a Roman army fort in northern Britain that was occupied from the first to fourth centuries.
In every time period of the fort’s operation, even the very early frontier days, children’s shoes show up in crumbled domestic spaces, official military buildings and rubbish heaps, Greene said.
“We don’t even have a period, not even Period 1, where we’re free of children’s shoes,” she said. [...]

… there’s a little slideshow of kiddie shoes as well …

Vindolanda Water System

Forgot to mention this one from the BBC last week:

An archaeologist in Northumberland has uncovered more of a Roman water system first found by his grandfather.

Dr Andrew Birley and a team of volunteers have been excavating land surrounding Vindolanda fort just south of Hadrian’s Wall.

The project to discover and record the pipework at the fort near Hexham was started 82 years ago.

The team has identified the spring-head and piping system used thousands of years ago.

During an excavation in 1930, led by Prof Eric Birley, an area of the Vindolanda site became flooded and not suitable for further investigation.
Spring water

Six months passed and as the water was not drying up the site was covered up and the results documented.

It was only with the use of modern pumps that Prof Birley’s work has finally been completed and the full extent of the Roman water distribution system uncovered.

Dr Birley, who preserved his grandfather’s original site notes, said: “We have found the main water tank and spring-head, and thousands of gallons a day are still bubbling through from the surrounding land and fields.

“They weren’t a great distance down, probably about six feet, and there is a small stream coming out of it.

“It is proper spring water, which is what the Romans preferred to use, as their other water, from the river, was used for waste.”

“We can now start a map of where the water has gone, right across the site, and start to work out how all the buildings at Vindolanda were supplied,” he added.

The current dig, which has been assisted by up to 500 volunteers, is scheduled to end at the end of August.

Dr Birley added: “They had to stop work back in the 1930s because of the heavy rain – the sort of rain we have been having this year.

“But to be honest, given the conditions and the amount of water that is there, without the modern pumps of today they wouldn’t have had a hope in hell of doing this back in the 1930s.”

Some of our recent Vindolanda coverage: