ELIO tells the story of Pompeii to kids and children!
Every two weeks a comic strip and in-depth analysis will take you to discover Pompeii: an exciting and illustrated journey through time to increase the knowledge of our wonderful city. Are you ready to meet E L I O and his special friends? This week we talk about Elio and Gaia and…
Children life in ancient Pompeii
What were the games and toys of children in ancient Rome?
Did you know that even the children of Pompeii were playing with Barbies ..?
What was the fate of girls in Pompeii?
ELIO tells us this and much more in this new episode of Pompeii Junior.
Happy Reading! The life of Roman children
The ancient Roman writers tell us that a good wife was the one who preferred to stay at home instead of going out.
Here she could devote her time to family and household chores such as the education of their children … Obviously writers of the time were all men and the women’s movement would have appeared a few thousand years later!!!
No wonder then, that the education of women in ancient Rome, from childhood, was oriented to make them good housewives.
But there are a few surprises: at an early age there was not much difference between males and females.
The games of the girls in the ancient Rome were in fact almost the same of the boys: they played with the ball, with the rim, and with knucklebones – decorated bones used in various games. Some Roman girls – the richest ones – had the chance to play with Barbies.
Well of course not really; actually, these dolls were a little version of the modern Barbies dolls.
Regarding the school, there were also many differences between boys and girls; males and females went to school together, but only until the girls reached the wedding age.
Then they interrupted studies and became devoted to their husband and housework.
Roman girls were participating at parties too, both civil and religious, and sang in choruses during the ceremonies along with the boys.
Even when they marrider, roman women remained under their father protection : this ensured them a certain autonomy; this lead the husband to treat his wife well in order to respect her father.
Toys and games for children at the time of the ancient Romans
Have you ever wondered what were the toys and games for children at the time of the ancient Romans?
Surprisingly the toys and games in ancient Rome were very similar to those of today.
Obviously at that time there were no video games for the Playstation (you should have been waiting for 2000 years!)
The choice of materials used to build up the toys was rather limited as limited was the number of toys possessed by the children.
In any case. games and toys, were often based on daily activities of real life and reinforced.
The girls played with dolls made of wood, rags, wax, ivory and terracotta.
Some of them had arms and legs jointed almost like modern Barbies.
The boys, played with wooden swords pretending to be soldiers.
Boys and girls played with small wooden statuettes reproducing people or animals, tops set in motion by a small rope, swings, kites, marbles, and circles of wood with bells they kept rolling along the roads.
They played hide and seek, but also with the ball and board games.
One of these board games was very special and almost mysterious as the archaeologist haven’t been able to understand how it works.
Although I do not know exactly what were the rules of the game, we know that one of the aims of this board game was forming a row of letters; it was, actually, very similar to the moder Scrabble. Another board game, called latrunculi (from the Latin word “latrus” that means servant or soldier) was very similar to chess and it was played with a board and small pieces called latunculis or calculi.
The tokens could be made of wood, stone or even wax. Aim of the Game was to capture the latrunculi of the other player.
Pompeii in 79 d.c. was a city without Teenagers.
Imagine a city without kids.
No children nor teenagers.
No boys going around, shouting, playing and having fun.
It is a real nightmare, isn’t it?
Yet a city like that really existed for a short period of time and it was the ancient city of Pompeii. Shortly before the eruption of Vesuvius that completely destroyed it, Pompeii became a city without children: a population of only adults!
How could this happen in a rich and important city of the and ancient Rome?
Well, that’s how things went.
A few years before the famous eruption that destroyed Pompeii, frequent earthquakes had put the local population under alarm; they thought it was a good idea to go away and move elsewhere selling their houses for a few money.
It was a very good opportunity for the pooorest ones who could not afford to buy a house under normal circumstances and wanted to redeem themselves also economically.
Who took advantage of this terrible situation?
They were mostly former slaves who regained their freedom from their masters – the Romans called them liberti; for a few money they bought houses and opened shops.
The freedmen were usually people of a certain age that had gaines their freedom with many efforts, so they thought about business instead of thinking to build up a family.
For this reason, and for a short time, Pompeii was a city without children!
The home of the Roman
In ancient Rome, the domus was the home of the elite and of a few rich freedman.
There were domus practically in almost every major city of the territories under the control of the Romans. The domus has left its trace in the Italian language in the word domestic, word that comes from Latin “domesticus” which derives from domus.
A domus was made by many rooms, interior courtyards, gardens and richly decorated walls.
The lobby – the entrance hall leading to a central atrium, a very important space from which you could access to others environments such as the cubicula (bedrooms), the triclinium (the dining room) the tablinum (a kind of study or living room) and the lararium (a space used for religious worship).
The domus was much more than a simple home for the Roman family.
It had even the function of an office for business and, as we said, a place for religious ceremonies. The domus, as it happens toady for residential contemporary buildings, could be of various sizes: some were small and rather modest, others were very large and luxurious.
The most relevant part of information about the ancient roman houses comes from the excavations in the ancient city of Pompeii and Herculaneum.