Households and Domesticity in the Ancient World

Module code: AH3060

  • How do we investigate ancient Roman households?
  • How do we use the archaeological and historical evidence to understand domestic practices in the Roman world?
  • What do these sources tell us about the households of the elite?
  • What do they tell us about urban and rural households?
  • What do they tell us about family and gender relations?
  • What do they tell us about household production and consumption?
  • What is household archaeology?

Households and families were at the heart of social organisation in the ancient Greco-Roman world and are fundamental building blocks for reconstructing past cultural lives. In this module we will explore the realms of domestic life and how households functioned in classical antiquity through texts, material objects, and the use of space. The time period we will cover is from the Roman Republic to the Late Roman Period.

We will consider topics such as gender, status, family organisation, household economies, household maintenance, childhood, food and cooking, and the political roles of households and family networks - all within wider theoretical frameworks of the history of the family and household archaeology.

Topics covered

  • Anthropological and Archaeological perspectives of households and the history of the family
  • Roman houses and households in literature and epigraphy
  • Houses of the Roman elite
  • Pompeian households
  • Roman houses and households in the provinces
  • Living in the Roman house: age and gender


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