From loom to laundry : cloth finishers in the Roman city
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Throughout antiquity, much of the population was employed in cloth-related industries from fiber production to laundering finished clothing. Fulling, (in a Roman context this includes both finishing cloth from the loom and laundering soiled clothing) and dying are particularly interesting as they are the most archaeologically visible textile trades. The technical bases and economic impact of these related trades are well studied and several debates in the last five years have raised interest in the social position of Roman cloth finishers. Interpersonal relationships between individuals in these trades are rarely studied, however, due to a perceived lack of evidence. This thesis attempts to contribute to those debates by surveying the available literary, epigraphic, and art historical evidence for the personal relationships of Roman cloth finishers and then developing a methodology to investigate opportunities for communication and social contact available to Roman cloth finishers through an analysis of the archaeological remains of cloth finishing workshops. The methodology developed in this work uses the biological limitations of the human field of view to determine what may have been visible from particularworkstations, in concert with historical and sociological studies of communication to establish the importance of non-verbal communication to work relationships in the Roman period. Visibility analysis is then applied to a selection of the well-preserved cloth finishing workshops from the imperial Roman cities of Pompeii and Ostia, which are evaluated comparatively to highlight the ways that the physical arrangement of the workspace can influence communication among the workers.
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