Roman Society: Appearance Was Everything

The Ties Between Roman Society and Adornment:

In the Ancient World, the city of Rome was arguably one of the most powerful urban centers. Because of Rome’s vast and enduring influence, the Romans firmly believed in the genius of their people, and citizenship was valued above all. To distinguish between different groups within the community, the Romans used dress and adornment to indicate one’s rank. Clothing, decoration, and overall appearance were therefore crucial; the way a person dressed while in public conveyed information about their social and economic status, as well as their background and lifestyle. Dress and ornamentation in Ancient Rome served as a visual language to differentiate people of varying social groups within the larger society.

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Above is a simplified timeline of the different stages of Ancient Rome; the primary focus of the following webpages will be to explore aspects of jewelry development from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire (red brackets indicate the general time period). Prior to the Roman Republic, Rome operated under a monarchy. The Birth of the Republic in 509 BC introduced a system of voting where elected officials and the senate regulated the city. The Republic ended with the death of Julius Caesar, and the Empire began with in 27 BC with Augustus’s rule.


To learn about an important group of Roman women whose decoration represented their families’ status, click here.