Lana, linum, purpura, versicoloria. I legati «tessili» fra diritto romano e archeologia.

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Lana, linum, purpura, versicoloria. The "textile" legacies between Roman law and archeology.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The research carried out in this monograph concerning the texts of the Roman jurists relating to the legacies of textile fibers has required an in-depth examination of the processing procedures of these materials widespread in the ancient world as well as of the evolution that these procedures underwent in the course of the history of Rome on a technological, social and economic level. Therefore the need to use an interdisciplinary method has been evident during the process of the exegesis of fragments whose legal problems, closely related to technical-specialist areas would imply the knowledge of the respective material contexts. This approach has made it possible to draw a series of conclusions on the texts under investigation based precisely on a careful reconstruction, even if hypothetical in many respects, of the material, social and economic context. But this analysis has not been able to ignore, especially with regard to the main source object of this study, fragment 70 D. 32 Ulp. 22 ad Sab., the well-chosen suggestions made by Mommsen on the internal arrangement of the paragraphs, thanks to which it has been possible to restore both order and logical coherence inside the long fragment. And the greatness of this scholar is amplified by the fact that at the time he formulated these conjectures he could not count either on the apparatus of innovative and up-to-date ancient studies nor on the array of archaeological findings available at present. Through the comparison with the material reality considered by the jurisprudential texts consisting in particular of cases regarding legacies including wool, flax, versicoloria (artificially coloured yarn) and purple, as well as flocks and ancillae lanificae in farms, the research has been able to confirm the validity of the reconstructions made by both archeologists and scholars of classical antiquity on the development of wool processing in some phases of Roman history (especially both in the late Republican and Imperial age). A sort of connection has therefore been found between the contents of the fragments of Roman jurists and the data obtainable from literary sources, archaeological discoveries, epigraphic and iconographic attestations. This in itself constitutes a noteworthy result because it shows on the one hand that jurists were extensively documented on the problems of daily life, domestic or artisanal work, of their time, from which they drew ideas for the advancement of the law on the other hand that also Roman law sources, despite their technicality, can inform Roman law scholars and all lovers of ancient disciplines about the technologies adopted by the Romans in this particular field. It has also been noted that the concrete law cases examined in this study refer to various environments, urban or rustic, belonging to higher social classes or less well-to-do classes, which reveals on the one hand the widespread diffusion in ancient Rome of the practices related to the textile activity on the other hand the interest of jurists for this reality, in urban or agricultural contexts, in high-ranking or medium conditions.
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Lana, linum, purpura, versicoloria. The "textile" legacies between Roman law and archeology.
Original languageItalian
Number of pages406
ISBN (Print)978-88-243-2657-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameUniversità Cattolica del Sacro Cuore - Milano. Dipartimento Scienze Giuridiche. Monografie e studi


  • flax, purple, head of household, matron, textile manufacture, spinning
  • fuso, telaio, coloranti, Plinio, Columella, Varrone, Catone.
  • legacy, gift out of the inheritance, warp-weighted vertical loom, two-beam vertical loom, dyeing, splindle, wool,
  • testamento, legati, lana, lino, filati colorati, porpora


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