Written by Charlotte Heath on a Roman Society Placement at Corinium Museum
This blog post by Charlotte Heath (Roman Society Work Experience Placement) takes a look at the role of Roman women based on evidence from the Corinium Museum collection.
During my placement I have been tasked to design my own display relating to the Romans. Surviving literature and sources we have from Rome often dismiss or barely mention the role of the woman in society, and for this reason they are largely under-represented in history. My aim is to use objects to create a display that helps us understand the daily life of a Roman woman.
One of the most frustrating things about curating a case like this is trying not to show women through only beauty and vanity alone, this being said two of my favourite objects for my display was based around the certain way women should look during the Roman period.
Discovering that there have always been social pressures on how women should look took me slightly by surprise, even without technology and social media there are still ways of distributing an image that women should feel the need to adhere to. These bone and pipe cay figurines depict the ideal figure for women, large curvy hips and thighs were a desired trait possibly because of its link to fertility and child bearing. Smaller breasts were also a sign of beauty, youthfulness was always fashionable and larger breasts often sag and don’t fit this ideal.
As part of my display I created a leaflet containing objects already in the museum that relate to my display and roman women covering topics of sex, servant work, textile work and death.