Saturday, January 12, 2013

I recently watched Season 1 of the TV series ROME on disks from Netflix. The costumes and buildings were beautifully done, and I became curious enough about Roman fashion and architecture to do some reading on the topics. I was especially interested in building tools, since many of the tools shown in the series looked very much like modern tools -- the claw hammers, for example. It also occurred to me, of course, that the tools used in the TV series were from a local hardware store, or borrowed from on of the set crew. Still, there had obviously been a lot of research done for the sereies, so it would be strange if they didn't bother to make the tool historically accurate. I wondered if some of the tools I have in my own workshop are similar to those that would have been owned by someone in Rome in, say, 40 BCE.

Tonight I'm reading a book about construction methods used in Rome from 3000 - 2000 years ago -- ROMAN BUILDING: MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES by Jean-Pierre Adam. In order to test Roman surveying and building tools, the author made reconstructions based on reliefs found in graves and on actual tools, many of which were found in Pompeii.

On Page 66 there's a sketch of a mosaic found in a house in Pompeii that shows a leveling square. Turns out a representation of the mosaic is used in the opening of each episode in the ROME series, but it wasn't obvious in the picture on the TV screen, at least not to me, that the thing at the top of the mosaic is a leveling square, nor was it clear that the stuff hanging down from each side of the level represents clothing and accessories.

If you look at a photo of the mosaic, you can see the leveling square clearly, as well as the fine clothing on the left and rough clothing on the right. I could have guessed that the moth represents the soul and should have known that the wheel stands for the Wheel of Fortune. Death the Great Leveler.

I'd like to try to sew a Roman costume. I found  good book with illustrations of costumes taken from frescos, statues, and paintings.