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Old September 8th, 2014, 06:11 AM   #1
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I am an urban professional in Rome, in 120 AD, what is life like?


First we might want to ask ourselves, what professional jobs are there?

Librarian
Physician
Lawyers (had to be lawyers then)
Civil Service (tax collectors)
Businessman

Many more than I cannot list.

So I am a guy who is married to a nice woman, a great wife, she gave me three beautiful children, a son and two daughters. I live in Rome in what is now known as around 120 AD.

I am also an urban dweller. I live in the city. No villa, but a place to live. Where would I live?

Assorted questions...

* How did people do marketing? Buy vegetables/fruits and especially meats. Would the seller sell my wife a live chicken in the market and then she would come home and kill the bird dead for dinner?

* How were fruits and vegetables kept fresh enough from the farms to come to the city to sell to me without refrigeration (which did not come around until almost the 20th Century.

* What is a 2nd Century kitchen be like? To be able to cook dinner after a hard day at the office. If I drank to relieve the day's tension, what would I drink?

* Are there any historical records to show what the cost of living in the city of Rome would be in the 2nd Century? Since I basically live in the New York of the Ancient World and it is crowded, it would be expensive.

* How tall were buildings? How many stories could the ancient Roman of the 2nd century build? As in if I were a professional person who made a decent salary (let's say like $150,000 a year in NYC or $50,000 a year in most of middle America) where would I live or what could I afford?

* Is there anyway to calculate how much people made there, and how much it did cost to have a living wage there?

* How was the coinage mint handled in the Roman Empire? It seems that every emperor seemingly had their own coinage, even for those who were not there long (like the teenage Eligabulus in the 3rd century.)

* How often could people bathe? My understanding is that the people with money would go to public places to bathe.

* On the weekend, are there taverns? As in, go, have a few drinks, enjoy some live music and go home? No orgies or crazy stuff.

* What kind of alcohol would they sell? Wine I would thin? Beer? What would be the local alcohol that people would drink in bars?

* Did people smoke marijuana then?

*Were there whorehouses everywhere? I have heard of late that Romans were not so sexually liberated at all. People might be angry at places of prostitution, especially for example, wives.

____________________________

*Sanitation, what type? When someone used the toilet, what would happen to the waste? Or the waste of my wife's wonderful cooking? Where was the dump? Were there garbage men?

____________________________

* Transportation, how would I go from one side of Rome to another. Don't want to walk 10 kilometers to somewhere. No taxis. It would limit to someone who wants to go somewhere, so I would think that someone would be limited to their neighborhood.

* So, if I were in Rome and I wanted to go to the sea with my gorgeous Italian wife (Kathrine Narducci - IMDb, with my three kids to the beach, how would I get there?

* Were there resorts in Ancient Rome? Some think that Pompeii was a resort town.

* In the resort towns, were there more prostitution, drinking and gambling?

* Were there casinos in Ancient Rome? In one scene of I Claudius, the jolly Emperor Augustus is playing a dice game with some citizens, and he asked a young man why he did not have any money....."Well, I am out of money sire." when Augustus gave him more money. Brian Blessed, great actor.

___________________________________

* Why during the Pax Romana, inventions, knowledge and the industrial revolution happen then instead of a thousand years later? Hell, if my father was born then, and he had enough money to tinker around, he would have created something.

_____________________________________

* What was education like? Did the parents pay money to send their children to school? With the usual report cards, off season, etc? Probably not, but was there an Augustus Caesar High School? For the children destined for the professional class, when is the start of the training?

______________________________________

* What would be some luxuries of the truly rich?

______________________________________

*What sports did people play? Can't help thinking they played a variation of soccer. A field, two goals. What else would they play? When the few went to "the games" (which would have been for the wealthy, what did they see? Not Christians eaten by animals)

* In the famous Colisseum in Rome, which I can see as a picture on this website, I notice walls and a maze in the playing field, what game were they playing?

__________________________________________

*Were there prisons in ancient Rome, or were people just executed if they did something bad enough, which we would call a felony today? Two drunks in a barfight, someone stealing a bag of wheat, minor things, was there a jail?

______________________________________

* How "diverse" was Rome in 120 AD? Would I see a variety of people from all over or basically white Italians like myself?

_________________________________________

* Has an ancient Chinese or Japanese been to Rome? Or a white Brit? To someone from the provinces, would Rome be seen as a "WOW" showplace to them, or an overcrowded place of squalor?

__________________________________________

* Were those tunics so much more comfortable than pants? That is the one thing I envy, is the clothes. At least the wealthy wore what seems to me to be comfortable clothes. I would love a return to togas. 2000 years (well, I would say 1500) come back. My testicles need a rest!

_______________________________________

* How old were people when they were first married? How did these marriages come about? Were they arranged or did people meet each other and hook up? Sort of goes back to bars and meeting places, did people meet there? Did people meet at their jobs? Yes, this was 2000 years ago, so maybe we do not know.

Enough questions. Chime in Romans and Countrymen. This is the one time in the distant past I would have enjoyed living in.
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Old September 8th, 2014, 02:05 PM   #2

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This is quite the list, I'll do my best. Please correct me on any mistakes I make.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
First we might want to ask ourselves, what professional jobs are there?

Librarian
Physician
Lawyers (had to be lawyers then)
Civil Service (tax collectors)
Businessman

Many more than I cannot list.

So I am a guy who is married to a nice woman, a great wife, she gave me three beautiful children, a son and two daughters. I live in Rome in what is now known as around 120 AD.

I am also an urban dweller. I live in the city. No villa, but a place to live. Where would I live?
You would probably live in a modest villa in the city.
Quote:
Assorted questions...

* How did people do marketing? Buy vegetables/fruits and especially meats. Would the seller sell my wife a live chicken in the market and then she would come home and kill the bird dead for dinner?
Marketing would mostly be graffiti, word of mouth, and how loud you could shout in the marketplace. I believe that meats were generally freshly killed rather than live bought.
Quote:
* How were fruits and vegetables kept fresh enough from the farms to come to the city to sell to me without refrigeration (which did not come around until almost the 20th Century.
Pickling I guess, don't really know about Roman preservatives.
Quote:
* What is a 2nd Century kitchen be like? To be able to cook dinner after a hard day at the office. If I drank to relieve the day's tension, what would I drink?
A kitchen would have an open fire and some cutting surfaces. What you drank would depend on what your intention was. If it was a social drink, you'd drink watered-down wine, but if you were trying to get drunk you would drink non-watered down beer or wine.
Quote:
* Are there any historical records to show what the cost of living in the city of Rome would be in the 2nd Century? Since I basically live in the New York of the Ancient World and it is crowded, it would be expensive.
If you wanted anything more than tenant housing, I would imagine the cost of living would be quite high.
Quote:
* How tall were buildings? How many stories could the ancient Roman of the 2nd century build? As in if I were a professional person who made a decent salary (let's say like $150,000 a year in NYC or $50,000 a year in most of middle America) where would I live or what could I afford?
Roman buildings wouldn't exceed more than about 6 or 7 stories, anything more was too unstable. Your house would probably be a modest villa.
Quote:
* Is there anyway to calculate how much people made there, and how much it did cost to have a living wage there?
I know that there are limited sources that describe these things, but I am unfamiliar with them and couldn't even name them.
Quote:
* How was the coinage mint handled in the Roman Empire? It seems that every emperor seemingly had their own coinage, even for those who were not there long (like the teenage Eligabulus in the 3rd century.)
Every emperor would use coinage as propaganda. Also, depending on the situation they would prioritize on certain types of coins. Just because an emperor was no longer emperor doesn't mean that their coinage was unusable.
Quote:
* How often could people bathe? My understanding is that the people with money would go to public places to bathe.
All except the poorest of the poor could afford the public baths. Bathing was considered to be a social event and I believe that most people went at least once a week.
Quote:
* On the weekend, are there taverns? As in, go, have a few drinks, enjoy some live music and go home? No orgies or crazy stuff.
Yep.
Quote:
* What kind of alcohol would they sell? Wine I would thin? Beer? What would be the local alcohol that people would drink in bars?
Wine and beer were the main types of alcohol.
Quote:
* Did people smoke marijuana then?
No, unfortunately A Brief History of the World Part One is not historically accurate.
Quote:
*Were there whorehouses everywhere? I have heard of late that Romans were not so sexually liberated at all. People might be angry at places of prostitution, especially for example, wives.
As far as I know most prostitutes would be at taverns, not specialized whorehouses. Wives would have a hard time finding out if their husbands used prostitutes, your wife would be much more concerned about the new young slave girl. I don't really know much about the poor for this one.
Quote:
*Sanitation, what type? When someone used the toilet, what would happen to the waste? Or the waste of my wife's wonderful cooking? Where was the dump? Were there garbage men?
The Romans had running water and I think that your waste would be transported out off the city by this water if you were rich or at a public toilet. Barring that, you would just dump everything out the window.
Quote:
* Transportation, how would I go from one side of Rome to another. Don't want to walk 10 kilometers to somewhere. No taxis. It would limit to someone who wants to go somewhere, so I would think that someone would be limited to their neighborhood.
If you were rich you could have slaves carry you on a litter, barring that you would walk (wheeled vehicles were banned during the daytime).
Quote:
* So, if I were in Rome and I wanted to go to the sea with my gorgeous Italian wife (Kathrine Narducci - IMDb, with my three kids to the beach, how would I get there?
You would ride on a carriage during the journey.
Quote:
* Were there resorts in Ancient Rome? Some think that Pompeii was a resort town.
Don't think of modern resorts. When people say that Pompeii was a resort town they mean that it was a popular getaway for the rich and there were many summer villas there.
Quote:
* In the resort towns, were there more prostitution, drinking and gambling?
Probably not. These things would hardly be the way a proper Roman would act.
Quote:
* Were there casinos in Ancient Rome? In one scene of I Claudius, the jolly Emperor Augustus is playing a dice game with some citizens, and he asked a young man why he did not have any money....."Well, I am out of money sire." when Augustus gave him more money. Brian Blessed, great actor.
I would imagine that most gambling took place on the street or at taverns.
Quote:
* Why during the Pax Romana, inventions, knowledge and the industrial revolution happen then instead of a thousand years later? Hell, if my father was born then, and he had enough money to tinker around, he would have created something.
Plenty of advancement happened during the Pax Romana. However, widespread technological change didn't happen until the Industrial Revolution and stuff like the steam engine.
Quote:
* What was education like? Did the parents pay money to send their children to school? With the usual report cards, off season, etc? Probably not, but was there an Augustus Caesar High School? For the children destined for the professional class, when is the start of the training?
Most rich families had their own tutors. There were also schools in Rome where students learned to read, write, and do basic arithmetic.
Quote:
* What would be some luxuries of the truly rich?
For stuff out of your reach, incense, spice, and maybe (not necessarily out of your reach) some exotic slaves.
Quote:
*What sports did people play? Can't help thinking they played a variation of soccer. A field, two goals. What else would they play? When the few went to "the games" (which would have been for the wealthy, what did they see? Not Christians eaten by animals)
I know they played a game called Trigon. There is little information on it, but it seems that there would be three people who would all throw a ball at the same time and try to catch another person's ball. There was also footraces, wrestling, boxing, etc., along with hunting.
Quote:
* In the famous Colisseum in Rome, which I can see as a picture on this website, I notice walls and a maze in the playing field, what game were they playing?
I have no clue what you are talking about, could you please provide a picture or a link?
Quote:
*Were there prisons in ancient Rome, or were people just executed if they did something bad enough, which we would call a felony today? Two drunks in a barfight, someone stealing a bag of wheat, minor things, was there a jail?
Almost nobody would be summarily executed. One of the most cherished rights fo a Roman citizen was the right to trial in capital cases. Other than that, I can't really answer for lesser crimes.
Quote:
* How "diverse" was Rome in 120 AD? Would I see a variety of people from all over or basically white Italians like myself?
You would see people from all over the empire, though mostly white Italians like yourself.
Quote:
* Has an ancient Chinese or Japanese been to Rome? Or a white Brit? To someone from the provinces, would Rome be seen as a "WOW" showplace to them, or an overcrowded place of squalor?
No Japanese or Chinese ever made it to Rome. I don't think the Romans even knew Japan existed. There is a record of a Chinese embassy making it somewhere in Greece or Asia Minor (can't remember exact city) and thinking it was Rome, turning around. Your reaction to Rome would depend on your personality and whether you were rich or not.
Quote:
* Were those tunics so much more comfortable than pants? That is the one thing I envy, is the clothes. At least the wealthy wore what seems to me to be comfortable clothes. I would love a return to togas. 2000 years (well, I would say 1500) come back. My testicles need a rest!
The Roman regarded pants as barbarian, which is why they took so long to adopt them despite the advantages of pants.
Quote:
* How old were people when they were first married? How did these marriages come about? Were they arranged or did people meet each other and hook up? Sort of goes back to bars and meeting places, did people meet there? Did people meet at their jobs? Yes, this was 2000 years ago, so maybe we do not know.
For the rich, it was almost always arranged marriages and girls would be early-mid teens and men I believe late teens-mid twenties. As for the poor, I guess that it would be a mixture of arranged marriages and marriages organized by the couple.
Quote:
Enough questions. Chime in Romans and Countrymen. This is the one time in the distant past I would have enjoyed living in.
Not compared to the modern world you wouldn't be interested in living in Ancient Rome.
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Old September 8th, 2014, 05:34 PM   #3
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I will attempt to answer some of the questions off the top of my head from my readings, maybe I'll post more after this to expand it to your other queries.

If the year is 120 CE, then as a Roman you would know it as the Year of the Consulate of Reginus and Antoninus: Reginus having being awarded it the second time after being Consul in 110 CE, Antoninus the first time; Antoninus is better known as the future Emperor Antoninus Pius.

Rome is at peace, and the Empire is at its peak, the territories having just being reorganized after Hadrian's accession in 117 CE following the conquests of Trajan. Arguably this is the best time to live in the capital since the Adoptive Emperors expanded the public assistance living programs. Under Hadrian, being a citizen, your diet would be supplemented with free wine, olive oil, and wheat which were being made available on the government dole. You would also benefit from the presence of the recently-built and well-maintained aqueducts, temples and baths that were common throughout the city; there were better paved streets, sewage disposal and fire protection available at this point in history than there would be in the capitals of Europe even in the 1800's. However, life expectancy even for the well-to-do would've be around 25; disease, especially malaria, was a huge problem, and wouldn't be conclusively resolved until the 20th century.

Being a professional, the wage you might earn would be roughly on par with what a craftsman would get, maybe 300 sesterces per month. After the pay raise given by Domitian a Centurion in the Roman Army (first of eleven grades) would earn 10 times as much, and 15 times as much as the average Roman solider, to top grade, which was 60 times as much. An average teacher (grammaticus, up to age 14) might see 1,000 sesterces a month but if you were a top professor working in the imperial library or a rhetor (final stage of formal Roman education, past age 14, if you wanted to be a lawyer or politician) you could expect 7000 or 8000 sesterces per month, and a doctor would be around 30,000 sesterces per month.

The average laborer (farmer or work employee) would expect to get about 1,000 sesterces a year, working 250 days a year and being paid maybe 4 sesterces a day, which is barely subsistence living considering the price of grain at 4 sesterces a modium, enough to make about 10 loaves of bread. The rent of houses varied greatly especially in Rome, each floor given out to a tenant, and housing could be single story in the better areas up to as much as seven stories as restricted by Augustus (cheaply made from wood) in the poorer parts of town, the poorest inhabiting whole highest floors spending maybe 1,000 sesterces a year, and 20-30 sesterces a year for a single room in an insula (apartment block like a tenement) in the slums.

For a professional to rent a small domus (with mortar walls, under floor heating, a bath, on less than an acre of land, for a family) in an average part of Rome would cost about 2,500 sesterces a year; to buy the same house, maybe 20,000 in the worst area up to 500,000 sesterces for a place in the best area. Forget owning a villa-style house in Rome, with marble and all the trappings, those were in the millions. To get an average slave to help upkeep the house and make pickups at market and cook for you, about 6,000 sesterces, a good slave, 20,000 sesterces. If you ate out, you'd spend about 10-20 sesterces at a thermopolia per meal, buying from market and cooking it was half that. Clothing, you could spend 200 sesterces a year for basic wool and leather (15 sesterces for a tunic, 15 sesterces for a pair of shoes, a cloak maybe 50 sesterces, etc.) or up to 5,000 sesterces a year if you insisted on dressing in the best linen or owned a couple of togas made of the finest wool.

All of these are wages and prices are taken from the records dating from the first century CE, most notably from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, which were relatively stable through 120 CE up to the reign of Commodus about 180 CE before the devaluation of the denarius started to affect the economy via hyperinflation.
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Old September 8th, 2014, 09:44 PM   #4

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Good response above particularly on costs but can answer some of the other stufl

The 'maze' in the Coliseum is not a maze but simply the lower rooms which used to be beneath the floor and held equipment, gladiators, animals, etc.

Vegetables keep fine for a few days and most of the hinterlands that served Roman tables fresh food were within a few days of the city either via waterway or cart tracks. Grains store much longer and were shipped from as far away as Egypt and the Black sea while bird eggs and other animals came from all over with some species hunted so severely prices became astronomical and complaints were registered about the scarcity all over the Roman world.

Fruits are more difficult to address but the Roman diet in fruits was not as varied as modern day because of the issue of storage. However olives technically are fruit and were widely consumed if not the most widely consumed item other than grains.

Also while fresh fruit might be a bit rare and often an exotic good in a city, preserved fruits were much more common and jams or other types of cooked or dried fruit were a common sweet good and aside from honey the main source of sweets for Romans. Fish and seafood was also very widely consumed in Rome and most of the Mediterranean with the most well known trade good from the sea being garum which was used in all sorts of Roman cooking and as a condiment.

Real luxuries were things like fine cloth which was originally linen or wool but silk was the most sought after luxury good going by complaints of traditionalists. Other luxury goods would be the items on a table- meals were one of the most important Roman social activities and what food was served and how was an important indicator of status.

For women after clothing and hair the most common mark of luxury was perfume with expensive and rare perfumes being applied liberally. Rich women are reported to have bathed in perfume scented water and sat for over an hour prior to public display while specially trained slaves applied makeup.

For men the toga was the most important indicator of rank with only Roman citizens of age allowed to wear a toga and various stripes of color and the style of toga denoting fairly broadly the rank of the individual with a few specific exceptions such as purple, saffron, and gold marking particular offices and titles.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 02:09 AM   #5

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First we might want to ask ourselves, what professional jobs are there?

Librarian
Physician
Lawyers (had to be lawyers then)
Civil Service (tax collectors)
Businessman

Many more than I cannot list.


Wow. This is a lot of questions

Physicians were not professionals in the modern sense. Many were conmen, and the best were invariably greeks. A good earner if you got yourself a wealthy client. Bureaucratic roles increased in number over the course of the empire, and as with all things Roman, were often used as sinecures or wealth creation schemes.

Lawyers were prevalent in Rome. Although a well respected profession (the Romans loved a good legal debate) being a lawyer carried some risk - it was possible for severe punishments if the case was thought to be false.

Librarian? A job for slaves mostly.

Where would I live?
In the best house you coukld affiord. Avoiding the Subura area was a good idea but the only high class district was the Palatine, and for that, you had to be seriously wealthy. Irrespective of the size of the house, you would probably have to tolerate noisy nights, smelly streets, and grafitti on your walls. Some house owners rented out parts of their property for extra income. Some in fact modified their property to support businesses, such as a downstairs shop, or a back alley booth for prostitutes.

* How did people do marketing? Buy vegetables/fruits and especially meats. Would the seller sell my wife a live chicken in the market and then she would come home and kill the bird dead for dinner?
Either/or. Mind you, if your wife is doing the buying and not a slave, one has to question your standard of living...

* How were fruits and vegetables kept fresh enough from the farms to come to the city to sell to me without refrigeration (which did not come around until almost the 20th Century.
Most supplies of this sort were relatively local.

* What is a 2nd Century kitchen be like? To be able to cook dinner after a hard day at the office. If I drank to relieve the day's tension, what would I drink?
Drinking water might not be trustworthy. Many homes either had direct plumbing, rainwater traps, or access to a local aqueduct/fountain. Usually you would drink wine, probably diluted with honey, resin, or water.

* Are there any historical records to show what the cost of living in the city of Rome would be in the 2nd Century? Since I basically live in the New York of the Ancient World and it is crowded, it would be expensive.
Rome could be frighteningly expensive and landlords were charging high rates for grubby premisies in jerry built tenements full of vermin. The cost of living isn't recorded as such, but there are clues in surviving writings and archaeology. Food was cheap mind you.

* How tall were buildings? How many stories could the ancient Roman of the 2nd century build? As in if I were a professional person who made a decent salary (let's say like $150,000 a year in NYC or $50,000 a year in most of middle America) where would I live or what could I afford?
The record was a nine story insula (tenement block). Legal limits were later placed on building height to avoid the consequences of collapses or fires, which were not uncommon.

* Is there anyway to calculate how much people made there, and how much it did cost to have a living wage there?
Some people have done research on this. bear in mind that lifestyles were different along with expectations. What we pay for today isn't necessarily the same as back then.

* How was the coinage mint handled in the Roman Empire? It seems that every emperor seemingly had their own coinage, even for those who were not there long (like the teenage Eligabulus in the 3rd century.)
Coins were issued to make political statements as much as provide currency.

* How often could people bathe? My understanding is that the people with money would go to public places to bathe.
Anyone could bathe at a public bathouse, and it was common to do this once a day (Romans liked cleanliness even though their city often wasn't so sparkling). There is some doubt about whether the lowest and poorest citizens did bathe alongside movers and shakers, but there was no legal restriction.

* On the weekend, are there taverns? As in, go, have a few drinks, enjoy some live music and go home? No orgies or crazy stuff.
Yes. Many taverns. Music wasn't such a wide genre in those days and probably not loud enough over the din of merrymakers. Gaming and gambling was much more prevalent (although I do note that a private display of gladiators also had a band of musicians playing to heighten the tension - from a mosiac)

* What kind of alcohol would they sell? Wine I would thin? Beer? What would be the local alcohol that people would drink in bars?
Beer was available along with wine. Quality would vary according to the honesty and prosperity of the tavern owner.

* Did people smoke marijuana then?
No. However there is some archaeological evvidence that Roman soldiers had cottoned on to substance use by barbarians to induce battlefield frenzy and were copying that activity. I don't know how widespread that practice was.

*Were there whorehouses everywhere? I have heard of late that Romans were not so sexually liberated at all. People might be angry at places of prostitution, especially for example, wives.
The Romans were ambivalent about sex. They had high moral expectations in public but were quite liberated in private. Things were officially far more restricted for women by tradition, but with wealth and free time, women sometimes got up to all sorts of senanigans. Prostitutes were quite common, often operating from street side booths, or the less popular whores (such as the older ones) from mausoleums outside town.

*Sanitation, what type? When someone used the toilet, what would happen to the waste? Or the waste of my wife's wonderful cooking? Where was the dump? Were there garbage men?
There was some drainage and a major sewer that the Romans were proud of, but most effluent hit the streets. Urine was collected for laundry.

* Transportation, how would I go from one side of Rome to another. Don't want to walk 10 kilometers to somewhere. No taxis. It would limit to someone who wants to go somewhere, so I would think that someone would be limited to their neighborhood.
Rent or purchase a chair.

* Were there resorts in Ancient Rome? Some think that Pompeii was a resort town.
yes. For the wealthier person primarily.


* Were there casinos in Ancient Rome? In one scene of I Claudius, the jolly Emperor Augustus is playing a dice game with some citizens, and he asked a young man why he did not have any money....."Well, I am out of money sire." when Augustus gave him more money. Brian Blessed, great actor.
The Romans gambled everywhere.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 03:03 AM   #6

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If you are interested in what kind of food the romans ate this is a very interesting documentary, unfortunately it's in italian but I would say you could understand pretty much everything by looking at what the archeologist is showing :



That was a roman farm 1 km away from Pompeii which it's very well preserved due to the volcanic ashes caused by the famous eruption under the emperor Titus, it was under 8 meters of volcanic material when founded.

at 1:55 he shows those interred jars where they stored their wine, each jar could store 500-700 liters of wine and the total capacity of that farm was of 10.000 liters of wine. The archeologist also adds that for a liter of wine you had to shell out 2 sesterces, so with wine alone that farm would make 20.000 sesterces, which he goes on to say it would be hypothetically equivalent to 40.000 euro today. Interesting is that the wine the romans used to drink was way higher in alcoholic content, it often had the consistency of honey so it had to be diluted by adding water to it, and since the romans used to squeeze not only grapes but also twigs and branchlets altogether with them the wine had a very bitter quality, that's why they added spices and sugar of lead to sweeten it up...
At 7:47 he shows how olive oil was made. At 9:00 he shows a kind of meat the romans deemed as quality meat, a crossbreed between a pig and a boar. At 9:42 it's showed the kind of ''vulcanized'' food found in the farm, dried figs at 10:00, chick peas at 10:15, fava beans at 10:17 and mediterranean beans at 10:19, and onions at 10:44, almonds at 10:52, walnuts at 10:56 and pomegranates at 11:12.
Kinda funny that a part from the lack of potatoes and tomatoes which would arrive much later to Europe via America they pretty much ate the same things you would find in my grandad's farm today.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 06:16 AM   #7
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I would suggest that something close to the roman lifestyle can still be observed in some countries (albeit minus electricity and relevant gizmos)

This is especially true in North Africa, in the villages were modernity has not really made its way yet.... But to some extent in some cities such as Marrakech elements of it can be observed in places like the old market.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 11:15 AM   #8

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I am in late, but let me answer one question that got a negative answer... Chinese or Japanese in Rome... Yes! There is one recorded east Asian in the Roman empire. He was found in Vagnari and mitochrondrial DNA evidence points to an eastern Asian origin of the man (probably Chinese). The sad thing is that this man was not a merchant or something. His burrial is that of a poor man, probably a slave. How he ended up in Italy is another story we can't really know.

Ambassador or slave? East Asian skeleton discovered in Vagnari Roman Cemetery - History - Life and Style - The Independent
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Old September 9th, 2014, 01:25 PM   #9
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Some really good replies so far in this thread! I'll add some more thoughts to some of the questions specifically now, hope it's of interest.
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Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
I am also an urban dweller. I live in the city. No villa, but a place to live. Where would I live?
To expand slightly on my earlier reply, away from the Tiber, which was prone to extreme seasonal flooding and was the source of the mosquitoes plaguing with malaria often killing the citizens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
* How was the coinage mint handled in the Roman Empire? It seems that every emperor seemingly had their own coinage, even for those who were not there long (like the teenage Eligabulus in the 3rd century.)
I believe the official mint in Rome was on the Capitoline Hill attached to the Temple of Moneta, which is actually where 'money' comes from. Coins were a great propaganda tool, especially when the Legions were paid with them, to help them remember who was paying them.

The Emperors would collect coinage (usually through taxation) and have them melted down and reissued in their own image, in the case of silver sometimes debasing them slightly in the process so they could issue more coins to cover ever greater expenses. Gold was never debased, though due to its rarity the aureus never became the main trading unit of the Roman Empire like the denarius. Not until the creation of the solidus under Constantine the Great who was able to pile up enough gold by melting the metal found in all the pagan temples.

Originally during the Republic they cast silver coins in molds, but by the time of the second century Empire they were striking coins off a die. Roughly 20,000 strikes would use up a die, and they would use up almost a thousand of these dies in a single year, in 120 CE making roughly 17,000,000 denarii.

Bronze coins were struck in mints outside of Rome for small change purposes all through the provinces, and there are 600 known, varying from city to city, with some silver issues such as the drachma in the Greek East being equivalent to the denarius issued in the Latin West as the Attic Standard. There was also a Cistophoric Standard using a silver coin that was 75% the weight of a denarius, employed in Syria, Asia Minor, Crete and Rhodes, and an Alexandrine Standard, minted from billon that was 25% of a silver denarius but assumed to be worth as much as the full coin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
* How often could people bathe? My understanding is that the people with money would go to public places to bathe.
As often as they could, daily was the custom, even slaves and the very poorest would make use of the public baths everyday because it was so affordable. Usually it cost from 1/4 ass to 1 ass (4 ass to a sesterce); children would get in free.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
*Sanitation, what type? When someone used the toilet, what would happen to the waste? Or the waste of my wife's wonderful cooking? Where was the dump? Were there garbage men?
One notable landfill in Rome is today's Monte Testaccio, a hill made out of broken clay amphorae shipped to and consumed in Rome from all over the Empire, some twenty-five million of them, all piled up about 110 feet high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
* Why during the Pax Romana, inventions, knowledge and the industrial revolution happen then instead of a thousand years later? Hell, if my father was born then, and he had enough money to tinker around, he would have created something.
Well, the Emperors might have something to do with that. They stifled the advancement of knowledge and the implementation of new techniques, worried that it might cause chaos among the citizens being thrown out of work due to a more efficient way of doing things. Your father might be wary of Tiberius who put to death the inventor of malleable glass, declaring that if he allowed it then glass would become cheaper than mud and hurt the economy. Vespasian rejected the offer of an inventor who had a better way to move very heavy columns, saying that if he used it then what would he do with all the men employed to move the heavy objects?

There was a huge resistance to change and it derived from the policies of the ones in charge, with any truly groundbreaking discoveries often being neglected or regulated to the role of curiousities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
* What was education like? Did the parents pay money to send their children to school? With the usual report cards, off season, etc? Probably not, but was there an Augustus Caesar High School? For the children destined for the professional class, when is the start of the training?
I don't think there was ever actually a high school, or any type of public schooling or education programs put in, other than who were sponsored by rich citizens or the Emperor himself. Even very rich teachers would rent a room or building and visit their pupils in the course of their duties. There was no report card ever issued, I believe it was mostly verbal. As I commented in my earlier post, the rhetor began the professional schooling from the age of 14 to 15, and these would go on to graduate to orator, lawyer, and other professions of very high esteem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zheng LaiEn View Post
* How "diverse" was Rome in 120 AD? Would I see a variety of people from all over or basically white Italians like myself?
All roads lead to Rome! In a city of a million people, the largest in the world at the time, you would've seen a variety from every corner of the Empire. Whether as slaves or as citizens or travelling diplomatic groups or merchants peddling their wares or tourists visiting one of the many civic celebrations such as the Saturnalia. It was the New York of its day.
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Old September 9th, 2014, 06:39 PM   #10
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A lot of educated "professionals" were educated Greeks who sold themselves into slavery as a career move. (As most positions as tutors, clerks etc were almost exclusively slaves, Romans generally used slaves rather than employees.) Such educated slaves would be generally fairly well paid and treated extremely well. (Most slaves were actually paid, mine salves, gallery slaves, and rural slaves on large properties were treated terribly, personal slaves generally not. Small businesses were often run by slaves, who were backed by their owners,

The public service was Augustus household slaves originally.
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