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Arbeia (present day South Shields) was at the Eastern extremity of Hadrian's Wall. The modern town could be described as "post industrial" , with the re-created fort gate and barrack blocks of the fort sitting on a dig site within a late victorian townscape. At Arbeia A T Croom (of Tyne and wear Museums) has worked on the re-creation of Roman furniture , and indeed published a work of that name which i am presently annotating. I would like to show some interesting items that may elicit comment and questions.

Firstly we have a baby couch/bed (best to use these terms interchangably in all references to Roman "beds" as the purpose was nearly always twofold)with a simple restraining rail to prevent rolling:


We move along to a more prosperous rom with a substantial couch , enclosed to protect the user. Do not forget that the Romans did not use backed chairs in any quantity , either one reclined or sat upright on a stool:


Thirdly ,wardrobes and chest storage..looking very modern indeed. Again the rich were the only people with storage problems for clothes , the relative cost of clothing meant that ordinary folk had little choice and of course other household ephemera (childrens toys as a prime example ) were a virtual unknown in Roman times, so putting the kids stuff into a cupboard would be unheard of (or falling over train sets and barbies).



There is more to say on the buildings as well.Please check my msn blog for an Arbeia entry.

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Nice to see you back in UNRV action again, Pertinax. You're annotating a book on re-created Roman furniture? Please tell us more about it! Sounds intriguing!


-- Nephele

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May I commit heresy here? We visited Arbeia on our recent Hadrian's Wall trip in July, and I have to say, of the four forts we visited, I found Arbeia to be the most disappointing. To anyone who has seen the preserved frescoes of Pompeii, Rome itself, or Livia's villa at Prima Porta, the reconstructions were tawdry and shabby to say the least. Whilst I appreciate the difficulties in matching ancient colours with modern pigments, I really did cringe at the crude representations at Arbeia. I also found the eclectic nature of the reconstructions to be something of a problem. We had Third and Second Style Roman wall paintings set in a 2nd century AD setting.


All in all, a big turn-off for me, I'm afraid. Sometimes, it is perhaps better to leave the ruins as they are and let imagination supply the missing fragments.

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