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Intimations of Classical Hosiery
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According to an article in the Guardian the ancient Romans wore socks with their open-toe sandals.

The evidence has been found on a razor handle, one of thousands of objects retrieved by divers from the River Tees at Piercebridge, near Darlington, which is the possible site of a Roman fort.

The handle is shaped like a human leg and foot and is prettier than your average plastic throwaway. "It looks as if the leg is wearing a woollen herringbone knitted sock," said Philippa Walton, a finds liaison officer at Newcastle University's Museum of Antiquities.

There have been previous hints of classical hosiery. "There was a bronze statue discovered in Southwark two years ago and it appears to show a foot wearing a sock," added Ms Walton. "But it is not as clearly shown as the sock on the new find."

As you can imagine, this comes as a great relief. It means there is one less thing to worry about when writing a mystery set during the Roman era.

I am pretty sure we never alluded to socks in any of our Byzantine mysteries but there's been a fair amount of putting on and removing of footwear (usually muddy) and it would have been all too easy to mention socks. Particularly since it never occurred to us that their existence back then (at least in conjunction with sandals) was in dispute. We don't check facts unless we realize they need checking, and though we're highly suspicious, socks are just the sort of thing that can trip you up.

It gives me the chills just thinking that we might have had John searching his atrium for a lost sock -- just to show that some things never change, and even a Lord Chamberlain at the court of the Emperor Justinian was subject to the mystery of the vanishing sock -- only to be advised that what was really remarkable was how he had even the one sock out of the pair since they didn't use them back then. (Maybe that's where my missing socks went...but that would be a science fiction tale rather than a mystery.)

Who would've guessed the Romans didn't have socks? They built the Hippodrome, after all.

However, now that it has been proved they did wear socks with sandals, we can rest easy. (At least until some scholar decides to make a name disputing it.) We can turn our minds to avoiding mentioning other things we can't be sure about. Such as whether the Byzantines ate swordfish.

Do you suppose, during the sixth century, one character might exhort another to "Pull your socks up"?

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