What are some key features of the fabrics (textiles) of ancient Rome (Roman Republic-Roman Empire era)?
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One of the major features of the fabrics worn by ancient Romans is that they were ordinarily made from wool. Also, the clothing worn by a person was usually made by the woman or women who lived in that person's household. Unlike modern Americans, for example, who go to a store to buy their clothing, ancient Romans got their clothing from their very own houses.
The fabric from which a person's clothing was made could also indicate their social status. Most people wore clothing made from wool, but wealthier people would be more likely to wear cotton, linen, or even silk.
The color of the fabric could also indicate social status. The woolen togas worn by ordinary Roman citizens was an eggshell or ecrue color. Candidates for political office, however, had togas that were deliberately whitened to make them stand out in a crowd. Dark colored wool might be used for the toga of a person in mourning.
The cleaning of fabric among the ancient Romans was also rather interesting from the modern perspective. Just as we have laundry services today, the ancient Romans had fullones ("fullers") to clean cloth. One of the key ingredients in ancient detergent was urine and so it is conceivable that an ancient Roman could drop off his laundry and "relieve" himself all in the same place.
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