Abstract: Classical and Barbarian: Ancient Dress as a Historical Source

Lecturer: Larissa Bonfante

According to the ancients, two institutions identified a nation, language and dress. Along with language and religion, which are still signs of identity today, the way people dress is a visual marker of their identity – telling others their gender, age, social status, ethnicity, and other information. In antiquity, the visual contrast between classical and barbarian was also clearest in their way of dressing. Amazon warrior women hunted on horseback with their husbands, took part in war, and wore the same dress as the men. Horse riding nomads and other pastoral peoples of ancient Europe wore fitted shirts and pants to protect them from the cold, made from The colorful, rich robes of the Asiatic barbarians were seen as signs of the luxurious excesses typical of tyrants, women and barbarians. Shirts with sewn, fitted sleeves and long pants were eventually adopted as comfortable everyday wear, and eventually marked the transformation from classical to modern clothing.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

 By the lecturer:

Etruscan Dress(Johns Hopkins University Press 2003)

The World of Roman Dress, co-edited, with Judith Sebesta (University of Wisconsin Press 1994).

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Morag Kersel is with the Department of Anthropology at DePaul University, and holds her degrees from Cambridge University (Ph.D.), the University of Georgia (M.H.P.), the University of Toronto (M.A... Read More

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