"The study of dress touches so many elements of human life and behaviour: identity, culture, religion, economics, gender, environmental questions . . . The cultural importance of ancient dress cannot be overestimated."
—Excerpt from Dress in Mediterranean Antiquity, edited by Alicia J. Batten
We all dress up on occasion: formal dinners, weddings, a night out. How, when and why people did so around the Mediterranean from 1200 BCE to 500 CE is the focus of this collection of essays that rummage through the closets of history in search of the materials, styles and purposes of dress. Modern-looking Fayyum mummy-case portraits from Egypt's Roman period, or roughly the first to third century CE, reveal what the deceased looked like and demonstrate these Egyptians "wished to be commemorated for eternity ... in their ideal state," which included their finest gowns, tunics and jewelry. Formal court robes, "richly embellished with woven designs and ornamented appliqué decorations" of gold and jewels-garments symbolizing royal endorsement-were adapted from a Persian innovation dating to the Achaemenid Era in the sixth century BCE. This text will appeal to anyone with an interest in fashion history and the material cultures of antiquity.