Archaeology Magazine

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What Roman Bathers Lost

Friday, January 11, 2013

SEATTLE—Alissa Whitmore of the University of Iowa has analyzed artifacts recovered from the floors and drains of Roman baths all over Europe in an effort to determine the variety of activities taking place there. Objects related to bathing, such as perfume vials, nail cleaners, tweezers, and oil flasks were common. A scalpel and a few teeth suggest that medical procedures and dentistry may have occasionally been performed. Snacks of shellfish and meat and sweets made with poppy seeds were eaten. Gaming dice and coins, needles and spindles, and men and women’s jewelry have also been found. “It adds further evidence that Roman military forts aren’t entirely these really masculine areas,” she said at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.