Roman Furniture


The tripod washstand pictured here is made of wrought iron and comes with a brass pitcher. Notice that the washstand has side dishes for soap and a brush, a towel rack, and even a long shoehorn. Washstands like this were found in the rooms of respectable rooming houses, such as the one occupied by the unfortunate sailor murdered in “Believing is Seeing,” another Miriam bat Isaac short story.

Miriam inspects the room the sailor occupied for the winter season, when the Mediterranean ports were closed:

I scanned the room’s spartan furnishings: the sleeping couch headed by a wicker chair, its wicker seat topped with a thin cushion, and a wooden night table with an earthenware candlestick, a few candles, and a striker and trimmer. Across the room, I noted a basin and pitcher on a tripod washstand, a seaman’s chest, and a cedar wardrobe. A lantern hung on the blind wall.

Roman furniture can be divided into three categories based on the material from which it was made: metal, especially bronze; stone, especially marble; and wood. Wood was probably the predominant material, but samples are seldom found; metal and stone are more likely to have withstood the ravages of time. For example, little wood was preserved in Pompeii. The most examples of wood furniture can be found, however, in the extremely dry environment of Alexandria.

“Believing is Seeing” will appear in my next Miriam bat Isaac book, a collection of short stories and novelettes titled The Deadliest Deceptions, to be published by Level Best Books later this year. Watch for its publication date here:


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