A Cultural History of Hair in Antiquity

A Cultural History of Hair in Antiquity, Volume 1

by Mary Harlow

Mary Harlow is Senior Lecturer in Roman History in the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham. Her research interests include age and ageing in the Roman and late antique world. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2019
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4742-3201-2 (hardback)

    978-1-4742-3212-8 (set)

    978-1-4742-3200-5 (online)

    978-1-3500-8790-3 (epdf)

    978-1-3500-8791-0 (epub)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
A Cultural History of Hair in Antiquity
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Hair, or lack of it, is one the most significant identifiers of individuals in any society. In Antiquity, the power of hair to send a series of social messages was no different. This volume covers nearly a thousand years of history, from Archaic Greece to the end of the Roman Empire, concentrating on what is now Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. Among the key issues identified by its authors is the recognition that in any given society male and female hair tend to be opposites (when male hair is generally short, women’s is long); that hair is a marker of age and stage of life (children and young people have longer, less confined hairstyles; adult hair is far more controlled); hair can be used to identify the “other” in terms of race and ethnicity, but also those who stand outside social norms such as witches and mad women.

The chapters in A Cultural History of Hair in Antiquity cover the following topics: religion and ritualized belief, self and society, fashion and adornment, production and practice, health and hygiene, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and social status, and cultural representations.