Echoes of Oppression: Unraveling the Tale of a Roman Slave Collar from the 4th Century AD.

In the echoes of ancient Rome, a seemingly ordinary necklace harbors a poignant tale, engraved with words that echo the desperation of a soul yearning for freedom: “I have run away, hold me; When you bring me back to my master, Zoninus, you will receive a solidus (i.e. gold coin).”

The most interesting historical artifacts ever discovered by mankind - Photo 5.

Dating back to the 4th to 6th centuries AD, this unassuming piece of jewelry conceals a dark chapter of human history—the era of widespread slavery in Rome. Slavery, an entrenched practice since the 3rd century BC, predominantly comprised prisoners of war and unfortunate captives from foreign lands. In response to the growing slave population, the Roman Senate, at a certain point in history, decreed a distinct dress code to differentiate between slaves and free men. It was during this period that collars for slaves, like the one in question, were introduced.

From a distance, the necklace appears as an accessory, but up close, the engraved plea reveals the inner turmoil of an individual who dared to escape the chains that bound them. Slaves in ancient Rome, relegated to the fringes of society, bore the stigma of their status and were subjected to arduous labor.

The inscription on this slave necklace serves as a silent cry for freedom, offering a glimpse into the harsh realities faced by those who sought escape from a life of servitude. The promise of a solidus, a golden coin, dangled as an incentive for the return of the runaway slave to their master, Zoninus.

As we peer into the history encapsulated in this unassuming artifact, we are confronted with the harsh truths of an era where human lives were commodified and the pursuit of freedom could be etched onto a necklace. The silent plea engraved on this piece of jewelry echoes through the corridors of time, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit even in the face of oppression.


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