Roman Man in Travelling Clothes

Roman Man in Travelling Clothes

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Man in travelling clothes, painted sandstone, 3rd century CE. From Roman Egypt. Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (Musée du Cinquantenaire, Brussels, Belgium). Made with CapturingReality.

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Imperial Roman army

The Imperial Roman army was the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the Roman Empire from about 30 BC to 476 AD, [1] the final period in the long history of the Roman army. This period is sometimes split into the Principate (30 BC – 284 AD) and Dominate (285–476) periods.

Imperial Roman Army
DisbandedBecame the late Roman army

Under Augustus (ruled 30 BC – 14 AD), the army consisted of legions, eventually auxilia and also numeri. [2]

  • Legions were formations numbering about 5,000 heavy infantry recruited from the ranks of Roman citizens only, transformed from earlier mixed conscript and volunteer soldiers serving an average of 10 years, to all-volunteer units of long-term professionals serving a standard 25-year term. (Conscription was only decreed in emergencies.)
  • Auxilia were organised into regiments of about 500 strong under Augustus, a tenth the size of legions, recruited from the peregrini or non-citizen inhabitants of the empire who constituted approximately 90 percent of the Empire's population in the 1st century AD. The auxilia provided virtually all the army's cavalry, light infantry, archers and other specialists, in addition to heavy infantry equipped in a similar manner to legionaries.
  • Numeri were allied native (or "barbarian") units from outside the Empire who fought alongside the regular forces on a mercenary basis. These were led by their own aristocrats and equipped in traditional fashion. Numbers fluctuated according to circumstances and are largely unknown.

By the end of Augustus' reign, the imperial army numbered some 250,000 men, equally split between 25 legions and 250 units of auxiliaries. The numbers grew to a peak of about 450,000 by 211, in 33 legions and about 400 auxiliary units. By then, auxiliaries outnumbered legionaries substantially. From this peak, numbers probably underwent a steep decline by 270 due to plague and losses during multiple major barbarian invasions. Numbers were restored to their early 2nd-century level of c. 400,000 (but probably not to their 211 peak) under Diocletian (r. 284-305).

After the Empire's borders became settled (on the Rhine-Danube line in Europe) by AD 68, virtually all military units (except the Praetorian Guard) were stationed on or near the borders, in roughly 17 of the 42 provinces of the empire in the reign of Hadrian (r. 117–138).

Roman Man in Travelling Clothes - History

The clothing of the Romans was simple. They usually wore 2-3 articles of clothing not including shoes. All the garments varied in material and name from time to time. There was little change in style during the late empire and early empire. Early contact with the Greeks on the south and with the Etruscans on the north gave the Romans a taste for beauty that was expressed in the grace of their flowing robes.

Clothing for men and women were very similar. Roman writers assigned each article of clothing into two classes according to how it was worn. One was indutus (put on), that was considered under garments. (Underwear) The other was called amictus (wrapped around), that was outer garments.


The closest article of clothing was called a subligaculum, which in modern terms means a pair of shorts or a loincloth. It is said to have been the only undergarment in early times. The family of the Cethegi who wore a toga over a subligaculum continued this practice throughout the Republic. Candidates for public office and men, who wished to pose as champions of old-fashioned simplicity, wore a subligaculum. At (best times) the subligaculum was worn under a tunic or was replaced by it.

There was no regular underwear like we have today. Old men in poor health wound strips of woolen cloth like spiral puttees around their legs for warmth, or wore wraps or mufflers, but such things were considered marks of old age or weakness, not to be used by healthy men.

No Trousers

Originally, Romans had no trousers, but later they adopted one for riding and hunting. It was called the Gallic bracae. It resembled riding breeches. Sometimes Roman soldiers stationed in the north wore bracae for warmth.


Tunics were adopted in early times and became the chief garment in the indutus class. (Undergarments) It was a plain woolen shirt made of two pieces, back and front, sewed together at the sides and on the shoulders. Openings were left for the arms and the head. The cloth extending beyond the shoulders formed sleeves, but these were usually short, not quite covering the upper arm. A tunic reached from the shoulders to the calf of the wearer, who could shorten it by pulling it up through a belt usually it covered the knees in front and was slightly shorter in the back. A tunic to the ankles was an unmanly fad.

A tunic was the informal indoor costume, as a toga was a formal garment. A man at work wore only a tunic, but no Roman of any social or political standing appeared at a social function or in a public at Rome without a toga. Even when the tunic was hidden by a toga, good form required it to be belted.

Two tunics were often worn: tunica interior, tunica exterior. (You should be able to figure this one out!) People who suffered from extreme cold, like Augustus (You should know who this guy is.), wore more than two tunics. Woolen tunics were worn all year round.

The tunic of an ordinary citizen was made of plain white wool. Knights and senators had stripes of garnet (the Roman purple), one running from each shoulder to the bottom of the tunic in both back and front. The stripes were woven in the material. A knight's tunic was called angusti clavi (with narrow stripe) and a senator's, lati clavi (with a wide stripe). Under an official knight or senator tunic, a plain white tunic is usually found. Like father like son, a boy wore a subligaculum and tunic children of the poorer classes probably wore nothing else. But in well-to-do-families, a boy wore a toga praetexta until he reached manhood and put on a plain white one. A toga praetexta has a border of garnet.

Roman Togas

The toga was the most oldest and important garment that a man wore. It went back to the earliest times, and for more than a thousand years the toga was the sign of Roman citizenship. It was a heavy white woolen robe that enveloped the whole figure and fell to the feet. It was massive and bulky, yet graceful and dignified in appearance. However, it suggested formality. In any social gathering or event, Romans had to wear a toga.

The toga was a symbol of citizenship. Wearing a toga, a Roman citizen took his bride from her father's house to his own. In his toga, he received his clients who were required to wear togas. He was able to be elected to office and served, governed his province, celebrated a triumph if awarded one, and in a toga he was wrapped when he lay for the last time in his atrium.

No foreign nation had a robe of the same material, color, or style no foreigner was allowed to wear a toga, even though he lived in Italy or in Rome itself. A banished citizen left his toga behind him, together with his civil rights. Vergil quote, "Romanos, rerum dominos, gentemque togatam." (Romans, lords of the world, the race that wears the toga.)

Slaves were given a tunic, wooden shoes, and for bad weather, a cloak. Poor working class citizens probably wore the same thing. They have little use for them even if they had one.

Early Togas

The general appearance of the toga is well known, for there are many statues of togaed men. Writers described the shape of the togas they wore. In the earlier form, it was less bulky and fitted closer to the body. However, during the classical period its arrangement was so complicate that a man needed the help of a trained slave to put on his toga.

In its original form a toga was probably a rectangular blanket but it was not colored. It has always been made out of undyed wool. Its development into the characteristic roman style began when one edge of the garment was made curved instead of straight. For a man five feet six inches tall such a toga would be about four yards long and a yard and three-quarters wide.

The garment was thrown over the left shoulder from the front so that the curved edge fell over the left arm, while the front end hung about halfway between knee and ankle. A few inches of the straight or upper edge were drawn up into folds on the left shoulder. The long portion remaining was then drawn across the back, while the folds passed under the right arm, and across the breast, and were thrown backwards over the left shoulder. The end fell down the back to a point a trifle higher than the corresponding end in front. The right shoulder and arm were free the left, covered by folds.

Togas of the Classical Times

Statues of the 3 rd and 2 nd centuries BC show a larger and longer toga, more loosely draped, drawn around over the right arm and shoulder instead of under the arm. By the end of the Republic the toga was still large but shaped and draped differently. The lower corners were rounded, and a triangular section was cut off each upper corner.

The garment was then folded length-wise so that the lower section was wider than the other. The upper part (AFEB) was called the sinus (fold). One end (A) hung from the left shoulder, reaching to the ground in front. The folded edge lay on the left shoulder against the neck. The rest of the folded length was brought across the back under the right arm, across the breast, and over the left shoulder again, as in the earlier toga. The sinus fell in a curve over the right hip, crossing the breast diagonally, in folds enough to serve as a pocket for carrying small articles. The right arm was left free, but the folds could be drawn over the right shoulder or over the head from the rear. Caesar and Cicero wore this type of toga.

An early toga may well have been one piece but the larger ones must have been two sections sewed together. Much of the grace of the garment must have been the care of the slaves who kept them properly creased when it was not in use. There is no mention of pins or tapes used to hold the folds. The part falling from the left shoulder over the back kept everything in place by its weights, which was sometimes increased by lead sewed in the hem.

This fashionable toga was so heavy that arms and legs could not move fast. (Oh no - Watch out for that chariot - Squish!) Cicero said that these young men wore "sails, not togas."

The toga was a burdensome garment in more than one way, for it cost so much that a poor man, especially on of the working class, could hardly afford it. It explains the eagerness with which Romans welcomed relief from civic and social duties that required wearing it. Juvenal and Martial praise the simple life in country towns, where even city officials might appear publicly in clean white tunics instead of togas.

Special Kinds of Togas

For certain observances part of the toga was drawn over the head. (The sinus part was used.) The cinctus Gabinus was another manner of arranging the toga for certain sacrifices and official rites. For this the sinus was drawn over the head then the long end, which usually hung down the back from the left shoulder, was drawn from back to front, and tucked in there.

The toga of an ordinary citizen, like his tunic, was the natural color of the wool from which it was made, and varied in texture according to the quality of the wool. It was called toga pura (plain toga), or toga virilis (man's toga), or toga libera (free toga). A dazzling brilliance could be given to a garment with a preparation of fuller's chalk, and one so treated was called toga candida (white toga). All men running for office all wore this toga. Hence, office seekers today are called candidates.

Curule (high-ranking) magistrates, censors, and dictators wore the toga praetexta, with a border of purple. It was also worn by boys and by the chief officials of free towns and colonies. The border was woven or sewed on the curved edge.

The toga picta (crimson, embroidered in gold), was worn in triumphal processions by victorious generals, and later by emperors.

A toga pulla was a dingy toga worn by men in mourning or threatened with some calamity. Those who wore it were called sordidati (shabby) and were said mutare vestem (to change their dress). This "changing of dress" was common when publicly demonstrating sympathy for/with a fallen leader. In this case, curule magistrates merely changed their bordered togas to plain ones, and only the lower orders wore the toga pulla.


In Cicero's time it was just coming into fashion, a cloak called lacerna, which seems to have been used first by soldiers and the lower classes, and then adopted by the upper classes because of it's convenience. Men of wealth first wore it to protect their togas from dust and/or rain. It was a woolen cape, short, light, and open at the side, but fastened with a brooch or buckle on the right shoulder. It felt so good on and easy to put on that men began to wear it without a toga underneath. This practice became so general that Augustus issued an edict (an order) forbidding the use in public assemblies. Under later emperors the lacerna came into fashion again and was the common outer garment at theaters. There were dark colored ones for poor people, bright ones for gay (happy) occasions, and white for formal wear. Sometimes a lacerna had a hood or cowl, which could protect the head from weather or use as a disguise.

The military cape at first called trabea, then sagum, was much like a lacerna, but made of heavier material. The paludamentum, worn by generals, was purple and sometimes had threads of gold. A paenula, an earlier garment than the lacerna, was worn by all sorts and conditions of men as protection against rain or cold. It was a dark, heavy cloak of coarse wool, leather, or fur. It varied in length. (Long ones reached below the knees.) It was usually sleeveless, with a hood or a neck opening through which the wearer thrust his head.

The paenula permitted less freedom of movement than the lacerna because it covered the arms and head. A slit in front from the waist down enabled the wearer to draw the cloak up over one shoulder, leaving one arm free and exposed to the weather. A paenula was worn by the upperclasses as a travelling cloak over either tunic or toga. Paenulae were also worn by slaves, and were issued regularly to soldiers stationed where the climate was severe.

We know very little of other garments. The synthesis (dinner costume) was a garment put on over the tunic by the ultrafashionable. It was worn outdoors only during the Saturnalia and was usually of some bright color. The trabea (worn by augurs or in laemen's terms a priest who tells about the future.) seems to have been striped with scarlet and purple.

The laena and abolla were heavy woolen cloaks. The abolla was a favorite with poor people. Professional philosophers who were often careless in dress especially wore it. Men used the endromis (something like a bathrobe) after exercise.


Free men did not appear in public at Rome with bare feet unless they were extremely poor. Two styles of footwear were in use, soleae (sandals) and calcei (shoes). Before this footwear, soles of leather or matting attached to the feet by straps. They were worn with a tunic when an outer garment did not cover it. Customarily their use was limited to the house. Sandals were not allowed during meals host and guest wore them into the dining room, but as soon as the men took their places on the couches, slaves removed the sandals and kept them until the meal was over. The phrase "soleas poscere" (ask for one's sandals) came to mean, "prepare to leave."


A Roman shoe, like a modern one, was made of leather. It covered the upper part of the foot as well as the sole, and was fastened with laces or straps. A man wore shoes outside even though they were heavier and less comfortable than sandals. If he rode to dinner, he wore sandals if he walked, he wore shoes, while his slave carried his sandals. It was improper to wear a toga without shoes, since calcei were worn with all garments classed as amicti. (Go back to Roman Clothing)

Senators wore thick-soled shoes, open on the inside at the ankle, and fastened by wide straps. These straps ran from the sole and were wrapped around the leg and tied above the instep. Patricians wore the mulleus (a patrician shoe) originally only, but later by all curule magistrates. Red like the mullus (mullet) from which it was named, it resembled a senator's shoe, and had an ivory or silver ornament of crescent shape on the outside of the ankle.

Ordinary citizens wore shoes open in front and fastened by a leather strap that ran across the shoe near the top. Some shoes have eyelets and laces. They were not so high as senatorial shoes and were probably of undyed leather. Poor people wore coarse shoes, sometimes of untanned leather. Labors and soldiers wore wooden shoes or stoutly made half caligae (boots). (Note: Caligula means little boots.)

No stockings were worn, but people with tender feet sometimes wrapped them in woolen sloth, to keep their shoes from rubbing. (In short a sock.) A well-fit shoe had a good appearance and was comfortable. Vanity, however, seemed to have lead to tight shoes.

Head Coverings

A man of upper classes in Rome ordinarily went bareheaded. In bad weather he wore a lacerna or paenula, sometimes with a hood. If a man was caught without a wrap in a sudden shower, he could pull his toga up over his head. Poorer men, especially those, who worked outdoors all day, wore a conical felt cap, called pilleus. This may have been in early times a regular part of all Roman citizen's costume, for it was kept as part of the insignia of the oldest priesthood's, and was worn by a freed slave as an indication of his new status.

A causia or petasus (resembled a sombrero), was a broad-brimmed felt hat of foreign origin that protected the head of the upper class. This kind of hat was also worn by the old and feeble, and in later times by all classes in the theaters. Indoors, men went barehead.

Styles of Hair and Beards

In early times Romans wore long hair and full beards. According to Varro, professional barbers first came to Rome in 300 BC, but razors and shears were used before the beginning of history. Citizens of wealth and position had their hair and beards kept in order by their own slaves. Slaves who were skillful barbers brought good prices. Men of the middle class went to public barbershops, which became gathering places for idlers and gossips. The very poor found it cheap and easy to go unshaven. But in all periods, hair and beard were allowed to grow as a sign of sorrow as much a part of mourning as mourning clothes.

Different styles of hair and beard varied with the age of the man and the period. The hairs of children (boys and girls) were allowed to grow their hair long and hang around the neck and shoulders. When a boy became a man, he had to cut off his locks sometimes with great formality. During the Empire they were often made an offering to some god. In classical times, young men wore close-clipped beards. Mature men were clean-shaven and wore their hair short. Most statues that have survived show beardless men until well into the 2 nd century of our era. But when Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138) wore a beard, full beards became fashionable.


Rings were the only kind of jewelry worn by a Roman citizen, and good taste limited him to a single ring. The ring often had a precious stone and made still valuable by the carving of the gem. The original ring was made of iron. Until late in the Empire, iron rings were generally worn, even when a gold ring was no longer the special privilege of a knight, but merely the badge of freedom. Usually these were seal rings used for ornaments. Such a ring was a device, which the wearer pressed into melted wax when he wished to acknowledge some document as his own or to seal a cabinet or chest.

Of course there were men who violated good taste in the matter of jewelry, as well as their choice of clothes and their hair and beards. It was not surprising to hear of a man with sixteen rings on a hand or six on a finger. One of Martial's acquaintances had a ring so large that he was advised by the poet to wear it on his leg. More surprising is the ring was often worn on the joint of the finger for easy use of the seal. (Surprise!)

Manufacturing and Cleaning of Clothing

For centuries wool was spun into thread at home and woven into cloth on the family loom by women slaves, under the supervision of the mistress. This custom was continued throughout the Republic by some of Rome's proudest families. Even Augustus wore homemade clothes.

By the end of the Republic, home weaving was no longer common. Slaves still worked the farms for wool but fine quality clothes could be bought in shops. Some articles of clothing came from the loom ready to wear, but most garments required some sewing. Tunics were made of two pieces of cloth sewed together. Togas had to be measured, cut, and sewed to fit. Even a coarse paenula was not woven in one piece. Some ready-made garments, perhaps of cheap quality, were sold in towns during the empire. In fact ready-to-wear clothes was a big business in trade.

Romans had no steel sewing needles. They used large needles made of bone or bronze. Their thread was coarse and heavy. With such needles and thread, stitches were long and fine sewing difficult.

Even with the large number of slaves in the familia urbana, soiled garments were not usually cleaned at home. Woolens garments especially white ones, required professional handling, and were sent by all who could afford it to fullers to be washed and pressed, bleached or redyed. Shops of fullers and dyers have been found at Pompeii with their equipment in place. Cleaning must have been expensive, but necessary, for the heavy white garments had to look fresh, as well as be elegantly draped and worn.

14 Gladiator Blood Was Often Consumed As A Cure For Various Diseases

The Romans were extremely superstitious and correspondingly, they had a grave fear of diseases and infirmity of any kind. Gladiators often used to be in the prime of their health. Indeed, it was often said that gladiators were lion-hearted. The Romans believed that gladiators, literally, possessed the soul of a lion.

As a result, it was believed that consuming a gladiator’s blood could cure many diseases, including infertility, epilepsy, etc. Ancient Roman physicians often recommended that their patients should consume a gladiator’s blood in order to reinvigorate themselves and become healthy again.

If you think that was bizarre, do note that Cato – a Roman statesman – recommended that babies should be bathed in urine. Specifically, he recommended that the urine of an adult who had consumed cabbage should be warmed and then, babies should be bathed in this warm urine. He also recommended that goat dung should be placed in diapers in order to lull babies to sleep.

Roman carriages

Roman carriages had iron-shod wheels (they did not have rubber then) which means that they made a lot of noise! Carriages were forbidden in big cities such as Rome during the day, therefore residents had to bear the sound of their wheels at night.

Everyday Roman carriages

The essedum was a small chariot with two wheels with no top and a closed front, for two passengers standing up. Pulled by one or many horses or mules, it was rather fast. The cisium was not as fast. It also had two wheels, no top, a seat for two passengers and was drawn by one or two mules or horses. It was driven by the equivalent of a taxi driver today or by the passenger himself.

The raeda was the equivalent of our buses today. It had four wheels, many benches and space for luggage. The weight of the luggage could not exceed 1,000 Roman Libra (circa 330 kilograms) based on Roman law. It either had no top or just a clothed top. It was drawn by many oxen, mules or horses, sometimes up to four hourses and even more mules!

Surprisingly Romans did not generally use horses for travel. They did not have all the equipment that we have today like the stirrup in order to have a stable and comfortable ride.

Carpentum replica at the Cologne Museum
(Public Domain CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Transportation of the wealthy

Wealthy Romans and especially wealthy Roman women would use a litter (either owned or rented) to go around the city or to go on very short trips. Six slaves (bearers) would carry one or two persons who reclined in the litter. Wealthy women would use the litter often in order to avoid contact with working class Romans. Bear in mind that city streets were not always safe especially for attractive wealthy women.

The carpentum was the bus or limousine of wealthy Romans. It had four wheels, a wooden arched rooftop and was pretty comfortable, spacious and nicely decorated inside. The carruca was like a smaller carpentum. Again it was usually used by wealthy Romans and could accommodate two passengers. Both the carpentum and carruca has some kind of suspension and metal and leather straps which made the ride more comfortable.

Time of travel in ancient Rome

Travel in Roman times was slow and. exhausting. According to ORBIS, the Google Maps for the ancient world developed by Stanford University, it took six days to go from Rome to Naples vs. about 2 hours and 20 minutes today (source: Google Maps). Because carriages often lacked suspension, they were quite uncomfortable, making travel on the paved Roman roads very tiring. Roman carriages also made a lot of noise due to their iron-shod wheels and could be heard at night as they were forbidden from big Roman cities and their vicinity during the day.

Roman rested at way stations called mansiones or "staying places" in Latin or the equivalent of our highway rest areas today. These mansiones were built at regular intervals (15 to miles part or 25 to 30km) on Roman roads and had restaurants and pensions were Romans (and their horses) could drink, eat and sleep. They could be quite unsafe as they were often badly frequented with prostitutes and thieves looking to steal from travelers.


Bespoke tailoring is all about individually made clothes. Nevertheless, tailors are strongly influenced by traditions, history and general fashion. And despite the seemingly endless possibilities of style and fabric most men order very conventional clothes from their tailors. Studying the history of tailoring and analyzing the style of the different tailoring schools helps you to find out what is right for yourself. Stay tuned for an upcoming article on Bespoke Tailoring Basics, a guide to bespoke tailoring for beginners.

2 Tunic, Sash, Mantle

There is general agreement that every Jew wore three basic items of clothing. The wool or linen undergarment was the first layer. It was a voluminous sleeved tunic held in place around the waist by a rope, leather belt or cloth sash. Over that was draped a mantle or cloak, a square of cloth that served as a topcoat, blanket, bedroll or even as collateral in a loan repayable by sunset. It was draped over one shoulder or both, depending on how much freedom of movement the wearer desired. Biblical researcher Michael Marlowe adds that Jews attached blue tassels to all four corners to comply with Mosaic law. Finally, no matter how poor a person was, all Jews wore sandals. These were made either of wood or camel hide.

Roman Man in Travelling Clothes - History

The Roman army was made up of groups of soldiers called legions. There were over 5,000 soldiers in a legion. Each legion had its own number, name, badge and fortress. There were about 30 legions around the Roman Empire, three of which were based in Britain at Caerleon, Chester and York.

Tombstones at Chester indicate that some men joined the legions young two men had been only fourteen when they had joined up.

A legion had commanders, officers and ordinary soldiers. There were also doctors, engineers and other workers

The different sections of a Legion

The Roman army was divided into legions of about 5,000 men.

Contubernium: consisted of 8 men.

Centuria: (century) was made up of 10 contubernium with a total of 80 men commanded by a centurion.

Cohorts: (cohort) included 6 centurie, a total of 480 men.

Legio: (Legion) consisted of 10 cohorts, about 5,000 men.

Eques Legionis: Each legio had a cavarly unit of 120 attached to them.

Contubernium (8 men) > Centuria (80 men) > Cohort (480 men) > Legio (5,000 men)

Contubernium (section) - 8 men

The smallest unit of the Roman legion was the contubernium (tent group) of eight men. They marched, fought, worked and camped together.

The 'section' (eight men) - the basic unit of the legion

In barracks, these eight men shared two rooms. On a march they shared a leather tent and a mule to carry it.

A leather tent for a Contubernium

On a march the Romans lived in tents

Contubernium (8 men) > Centuria (80 men) > Cohort (480 men) > Legio (5,000 men)

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

What Sort of Clothing Did People in Jesus’ Time Wear?

N.B.: I am in the Holy Land at this time. As my travel schedule is heavy, I am republishing some articles about life in Jesus’ day. I hope you will enjoy reading (or re-reading) them as much as I did.

Determining what clothing was worn in Jesus’ day is surprisingly complex. First of all, there are many presumptions we make based on how many dress in the Middle East today. The typical form of clothing there now (the women in veils, and both men and women in long, flowing robes) seems very traditional and ancient to us, so we assume that this is how the people of Jesus’ time dressed. Even if many of the basics are the same, the details are difficult to determine.

This difficulty emerges from two basic problems. First, archeology unearths little evidence of ancient clothes, since they do not last like rocks, pottery, and some bones. Second, the Jews almost never represented human figures in their art, so we have nothing comparable to the Egyptian frescoes, or the artwork found from the ancient Greeks and Romans.

We are left to glean details from scriptural references to clothing and descriptions of what was required and forbidden. Although they do not paint a complete picture, they at least provide us with some rudimentary descriptions.

In everyday life, men and women alike wore garments often referred to as “tunics.” A tunic was a simple, one-piece robe, usually belted at the waist, with a hole for the head and two holes for the arms. People wore both an inner garment and an outer garment, each with a similar shape.

The inner garment resembled a long, loose-fitting T-shirt or a kimono. It was made of linen, cotton, or sometimes soft wool. For penitential reasons some would occasionally wear inner tunics made of sackcloth or camel hair. The earliest of these garments were made without sleeves and reached only to the knees later the garment often extended to the wrists and ankles. A man wearing only this inner garment was said to be naked (e.g., 1 Samuel 19:24, Isaiah 20:2–4). Nothing at all was worn underneath the inner garment (except by Essene men, who wore a close-fitting loincloth).

The belt (also called a cincture or girdle) was a band of cloth, cord, or leather that could be loosened or tightened. It was worn around the inner and/or outer garment. Its use prevented the flowing robes (often long) from interfering with movement. The biblical expression “to gird up the loins” meant to put on the belt, thus freeing the lower legs to permit work and easy walking. The expression signified that the person was ready for service it is largely equivalent to the modern expression, “roll up your sleeves.”

The outer tunic, also called a mantle or robe, was worn over the inner tunic. It consisted of a square or oblong strip of cloth with a hole for the head. Sometimes it had sleeves and sometimes was more like a poncho, with the area for the arms cut back. It was worn as a protective covering people did not go out in public without some sort of outer tunic. Jewish men had tassels (called tzitzit) attached to the corners of their mantles, reminding them of the constant presence of the Lord’s commandments. Because the outer tunic was large and flowing, it was usually drawn in with a belt. The outer belt was often decorated with embroidery or even precious stones.

A bag or purse was often attached to the belt, fastened with a buckle.

While most Jewish men and women wore long (ankle-length) tunics, short (knee-length) tunics were worn by slaves, soldiers, and those engaging in work that required mobility.

The cloak – In cooler weather, a cloak might be worn on top of these tunics. Cloaks could be designed either with sleeves or without.

Sandals were worn on the feet. They had wooden soles and were fastened with straps of leather. Jews did not wear sandals indoors they removed them upon entering the house and washed their feet.

In terms of the basics, men and women dressed much alike. However, there were clearly differences because Scripture warns, A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God (Deut 22:5).

For women, the inner garment was largely identical to that for men. However, the outer garment was longer, with enough border fringe to largely cover the feet (Isaiah 47:2 Jeremiah 13:2). The outer garment was cinched with a belt similar to that used by men, but it was ornamented differently (and usually more elaborately). In some regions, women’s outer garments were made of different materials and/or sported different patterns than those worn by men. In addition, a woman might don an apron on top of the outer garment, in order to protect it and to enable her to carry things. The apron was usually attached to the belt and covered the lower half of the body.

The veil – There is debate as to how widespread the wearing of the veil was for Jewish women in Jesus’ day. It is certain that they wore them in the synagogue and the Temple (cf 1 Cor 11:15). It is also quite certain that unmarried women wore them. However, it is less evident that Jewish women wore them all the time, especially at home some of them didn’t even wear them in public. It would seem that Jewish women in Roman Judea (i.e., the south, around Jerusalem, Jericho, and Bethlehem) wore hairnets, examples of which have been discovered at sites such as Masada.

So perhaps women did not wear a veil at all times as is now the custom in much of the Middle East. Other sources speak of the head covering being typical for both men and women and describe it as a length of cloth around the shoulders that could be pulled over the head and tied at the forehead, falling over the shoulders. Perhaps the veil or head covering was something that was used strategically, such as when one needed protection from the sun or wished to pray.

The Bible first mentions women’s jewelry when Abraham’s servants present earrings and bracelets to Rebecca (Genesis: 24:22). Jeremiah also observed, “Can a maid forget her ornaments?” Isaiah 3:16-23 features a detailed description of the fashionably ornamented woman of the Old Testament. As a general rule, Hebrew women wore bracelets and earrings. Less frequently they might have nose jewels and/or wear a necklace.

Bracelets – Bracelets were usually made of precious materials such as gold and were typically worn around the wrist. However, royal women often wore them above the elbow. Most bracelets were one solid piece and were slipped over the wrist more rarely two pieces were fastened together and were open and closed at a hinge.

Anklets – Women wore anklets as often as they did bracelets. Anklets were made of much the same material (Isaiah 3:16 – 20). Some anklets were fashioned so as to create a tinkling, musical sound when the woman walked.

Earrings – Among the Jewish people, only women wore earrings (Judges 8:24). They were less common long ago than they are today. Generally, Scripture suggests that they were round or hoop-like. However, the law prohibited all mutilation of the body, so neither ears nor nose could be pierced to hold such ornaments. Thus earrings were clipped on or worn around the ear with a small chain.

Nose Jewels – Although some evidence exists of Jewish women wearing small jewels on or about the nose, there is little evidence that the wearing the nose rings was widespread. The practice was more common farther to the east, mainly among the Assyrians and Persians.

Rings were worn not only on the fingers, but also on the toes.

Cosmetics and perfume – Generally, Jewish women looked at cosmetics (such as painting the eyes) with disdain (Jeremiah 4:30 23:40). There is some evidence that Jewish women dyed the nails of their fingers and toes with henna.

Perfume – Jewish women used perfume in much the same manner as today. Common sources of perfume in biblical times were frankincense and myrrh, aloes, nard, cinnamon, and saffron.

Hairstyle – Most Jewish women wore their hair long and braided. The Talmud mentions that Jewish women also used combs and hairpins. It would seem that they generally eschewed the more elaborate hairstyles of the Greek and Assyrian women.

Traveling in Time: History & Evolution of the Suitcase

Suitcases have grown in size, style and security as trains, boats and plains made the world a smaller place. From buckskin packs to steamer trunks to carbon fiber carry-ons, the story of the suitcase parallels the explosion of travel and tourism.

The Modern Stone Age Family

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones&hellip and like any family (modern or otherwise), Fred&rsquos brood took the occasional vacation to prehistoric hotspots like Hollyrock, Frantic City or Rock Vegas. Lugging stone suitcases wasn&rsquot easy, but who wouldn&rsquot want an alligator bag made from a living gator?

The Iceman Cometh &ndash and Goeth

In prehistoric times, human society was nomadic in nature and travel was a way of life. Even Otzi the Iceman packed a travel kit on his final journey into the Alps. The forerunners of the suitcase had to be tough, flexible and above all light. Otzi carried a rudimentary wood-ribbed backpack which supported a leather bag. No sign of any &ldquoI Skiid Gstaad&rdquo stickers.

Roman About

By the time of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, society was enjoying tourism for pleasure while traversing a far-flung network of stone and concrete Roman roads. Rome&rsquos legionnaires as well were frequently on the move &ndash and they packed their belongings in what may be the world&rsquos first suitcases. Above left is a luggage tag found in Chester, Britain which reads: &ldquoThe Twentieth Legion. [Property] of Julius Candidus.&rdquo

The Search for a Suitable Case

By the 19th century, the modern suitcase was finally taking its familiar form. Rugged and well built, antique suitcases had to withstand years of use on unpaved roads, often exposed to inclement weather. The average suitcase of the age was made of thick, oil-treated cowhide stretched over a stout wooden frame.

International Tourists & Touristers

Travel became an option, not a necessity, and exotic vacations became the new status symbol. Tourists plastered their suitcases with travel stickers &ndash the more, the merrier! The multi-labeled suitcase became an icon of travel, tourism and the vacation industry by the mid-20th century.

Introducing the Seatcase

Vintage luggage was built to last, making it ideal for other uses once its traveling days are over. These seatcases are a, umm, case in point. It&rsquos not known whether the suitcases are sealed before being recycled as chairs &ndash if not, they could do double-duty as extra storage.

Suitcases &ndash Not Just for Suits Anymore

The name &ldquosuitcase&rdquo is in some ways a misnomer&hellip suits need to be kept as wrinkle-free as possible so they&rsquore usually hung up in garment bags. Even so, the word has passed into common usage. Above are several suitcases that were designed to carry some very un-suit-like objects. Clockwise from upper left: suitcases for cameras, bras, pool cues and cigars.

Packing the Rainbow

Modern travel forces people together while segregating their baggage. Matching up suitcase and owner upon arrival &ndash on a mass scale &ndash introduced the need for luggage identifiers. These take two different forms: either an unusually colored suitcase or some sort of elastic band such as the starry one above.

Metal Case

Nothing stands out in a crowd of dull leather or fabric suitcases like the glint of stainless steel. A wide variety of metal suitcases are available and all are surprisingly light, though if weight is the main concern then aluminum or magnesium are the elements of choice. Sizes range from large travel suitcases down to notebook cases as sleek as the MacBook within.


Think carrying a metal suitcase makes you look like some sort of secret agent? Add in a trenchcoat and some mirrored shades and the deal is sealed. Little do they know that you carry neither atomic secrets nor ransom money for a gorgeous kidnapped heiress &ndash instead, your bulletproof metal suitcase opens to reveal the Mini-Kart-Bahn, a self-contained miniature race course! Ingenious wheel-shaped controllers are included kidnapped heiress is extra.

Bike in a Bag

It&rsquos a bicycle. It&rsquos a suitcase. It&rsquos a suitcase folding bicycle! Truth be told, the Suitcase Bike isn&rsquot the greatest bicycle around and as a suitcase it pretty much sucks &ndash it only holds the parts of the bike &ndash but certain compromises had to be made for the sake of, well, compromise. Here&rsquos a video of the Suitcase Bike unfolding and re-folding:

Traveling Light

Tired of your suitcase? Here&rsquos a suitcase&hellip made for tired travelers by accomplished Etsy artist Olive. The stuffed suitcase pillow measures 15 inches wide by 11 inches tall and features polka-dot print corners and chocolate brown felt handles & latches.

The Art of the Suitcase

Suitcases are such an essential part of our lives that it&rsquos only natural they&rsquod be the subject of art. Dutch designer Maarten De Ceulaer uses suitcases like LEGO blocks to form stacked conglomerations meant to express the solid yet fluid flow of modern life &ndash or something.

Tomorrow&rsquos Suitcase

Has the suitcase reached the limit of its evolutionary possibilities? Hardly. Take the Tank Suitcase above, an innovative design by conceptual thinker Woo Moonhyung. Called the Climbing UP Suitcase, the suitcase features tank-like treads that encircle the case on both sides, making it a cinch to pull up stairs and inclined surfaces. Moonhyung won the 2008 Red Dot Design concept award with the Climbing UP so there&rsquos every chance it&rsquoll be put into production someday.

Wherever humankind may wander, be assured he/she will have suitcases along for the ride &ndash or who knows, maybe our suitcases will BE our rides. Case closed, carry-on!

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