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The Scotsman
Sat 29 Jan 2005
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New broom to make togas the Roman way

JEREMY CHARLES
IN ROME

RESEARCHERS in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii are attempting to revive 2,000-year-old traditions to reproduce imperial cloth used to make togas and uniforms.

The project follows successful production of Roman wine two years ago using methods that would have been employed in vineyards buried by a devastating eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD79. Historians at the archaeology department in Pompeii are experimenting with wild broom as the base product to make the textiles.

They will be using the writings of ancient Roman scholars such as Pliny and Columella to make the cloth as well as relying on materials discovered within Pompeii in buried workshops.

Annamaria Ciarallo, director of the research laboratory at the department, said: "It will be a fascinating project and we are confident of success. From ancient writings of scholars we know that Romans used broom which grows actively in the area around Vesuvius.

"The aim is to use the same techniques as ancient Roman textile makers to reproduce cloth that would have been used to make togas, uniforms and other items. It is the same textile as would be used to make the toga of an emperor, so it promises to be an interesting project."

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