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Roman Pins and Needles

Pins and needles for textile working, ca. 1st century – 4th century CE, Roman, bone, gift of Arthur and Roswitha Haas, 2007.2.484A-Q

The ancient Romans were quite proud of their distinctly austere morals. One unexpected way they expressed this was through their textile production. To purchase pre-made garments or just clothe was ludicrously expensive in the Roman empire. A new cloak for a commoner could cost about three fifths of their annual income. It was much more economical to produce ones own clothing. Many middle and upper class families would leave their wool working supplies, like looms, fabrics, and needles like these, out in the semi-public atrium of their house. This was more of a public display of frugality and efficiency rather than a place the family actually produced clothe. Wool working was also ascribed to moral women in Roman society. During Augustus’s reign, Augustus would proudly flaunt his wife (Livia) and daughter’s (Julia) self-made clothing and claimed they were the best wool workers in Rome, and by metaphoric extension, the most moral.