Worth Their Weight in Gold

Gender Identities Through Adornment on the Ancient Bay of Naples

One of the most evocative artefacts excavated from the Roman sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum is the jewellery owned and worn by the victims of Vesuvius in AD 79. Unfortunately, little is known about the specific ways in which Roman men and women used adornment to create and express individual gender identities. This talk seeks to rectify this shortcoming through an analysis of 40 skeletal remains from secure contexts in Pompeii and Herculaneum and the personal adornment (i.e. necklaces, fingerings, bracelets, earrings and hairnets) associated with these skeletons. The individuals under investigation hail from a range of age groups and socio-economic classes. This paper will present the current evidence and several hypothesized gender identities.