Multiple Masculinities and Personal Adornment from Herculaneum – Courtney A. Ward (Oxford)

Gender has been a critical influence in archaeology over the past 30 years, however there is still a tendency to view jewellery and personal adornment purely as the realm of wealthy women. Yet, freeborn boys were marked by a gold bulla and men of various financial and social statuses wore finger-rings. This paper will provide a new perspective regarding discussions of gender and identity by uncovering the multiple masculinities extant in the Roman world through an analysis of personal adornment and skeletal remains preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

Though his rank and economic means remained constant, a man in the political sphere would have been identifiable as a boy, a young politician, a husband, a successful statesman and ultimately a head of household. These stages in the life of this fictitious man would have been differentiated not only by levels of responsibility and respect but also through variations in clothing and personal adornment. The gender identities associated with these stages would have also varied according to individual circumstances of wealth and status. The goal of this paper is to uncover not only how these gender identities were conveyed but also how they interacted with other interrelated social factors, such as social standing and financial means. In order to more accurately assess these multiple gender identities, skeletal remains from Herculaneum will be examined for aspects, such as age, sex, health and social status. These will then be compared to assemblages of personal adornment found with the individual remains.

Gender has been a critical influence in archaeology over the past 30 years, however there is still a tendency to view jewellery and personal adornment purely as the realm of wealthy women. Yet, freeborn boys were marked by a gold bulla and men of various financial and social statuses wore finger-rings. This paper will provide a new perspective regarding discussions of gender and identity by uncovering the multiple masculinities extant in the Roman world through an analysis of personal adornment and skeletal remains preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

 

Though his rank and economic means remained constant, a man in the political sphere would have been identifiable as a boy, a young politician, a husband, a successful statesman and ultimately a head of household. These stages in the life of this fictitious man would have been differentiated not only by levels of responsibility and respect but also through variations in clothing and personal adornment. The gender identities associated with these stages would have also varied according to individual circumstances of wealth and status. The goal of this paper is to uncover not only how these gender identities were conveyed but also how they interacted with other interrelated social factors, such as social standing and financial means. In order to more accurately assess these multiple gender identities, skeletal remains from Herculaneum will be examined for aspects, such as age, sex, health and social status. These will then be compared to assemblages of personal adornment found with the individual remains.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s