Hair, like clothes, has always been one way to express one's self. This is also true for Ancient Rome. Hairstyles have been a way for researchers to identify societal norms and class. In Ancient Rome, how someone did one's hair was an indication of who they were and what their role was in society. It wasn’t uncommon for people to spend a lot of time on their looks because it was directly tied to how attractive they were seen, a behavior that has mostly transferred to contemporary society. Another reason women focused so much on their hair was because it showed society how wealthy and powerful they were. The more elegant or complicated a hairstyle was, the higher in social status she was seen.
Types of hair pieces and accessories that were used included wreaths, hairpins, wigs and veils. Hairpins, like the one featured in the photo, were found all over the Roman Empire. These hairpins were used to tightly hold women's hair buns so they wouldn’t come undone. Sometimes women even had hairpins that featured small portraits of themselves; the details on these pins are so small that only those very close to the wearer can see the portrait. This particular pin is currently on display in Yale University's art gallery.
The photo above of a bust features a hairstyle that was common in the Flavian dynasty. As you can see, this hairstyle was quite elegant and bold. This style was known both for its height and dramatic curls and braids.
Wreaths, like the one portrayed in this photograph, were worn at festivals, weddings, and funerals. They also acted as trophies to athletic competition winners. Sometimes these crown were made with silver and gold for royalty. This head is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Are you fascinated by Ancient Rome history? Want to learn more? Join us at Museum of World Treasures this Thursday from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. Our very own, Kristin Martin, will be speaking about her recent trip to Rome. You won’t want to miss this!