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I'm just wondering if anyone has any historical sources, sculptural or mural that gives an idea of which finger the Romans wore their rings on.

I would guess it was pretty much on any one since from what I understand they wore many rings later on. Specifically the signet ring, which was had an obvious practical use.

Cheers
I've read somewhere that a wedding ring was worn on the middle finger of the right hand, but I wouldn't swear to that. Also that wedding rings were iron, not precious metal.
Ave,

I honestly have not seen any military statue or even any emperor wearing a ring. I would presume from this that either the military did not wear rings and rings were worn off the battle field or they were taken off during a battle.

As far as wedding rings go, a common style was the clasped hands, such as the example below. HOMONO defines the ring as a ritual ring for engagement or wedding, HOMONO is a Greek word spelled in Latin characters.

[Image: 220c.jpg]

There are examples with LEG on them but, I don’t see any rings on the column or in other examples of sculpture. It is a bit puzzling that even on the statues of emperors, there aren’t any rings to be seen.

[Image: 213c.jpg]
An optio wore a ring as a badge of his rank. At least one has been found and it may be that some of the 'leg' rings which have been found (although I am sure a lot of them are forgeries) are optio rings of a different style. I am not aware of any references to soldiers other than optiones wearing rings.

Crispvs
The clasped hands looks almost identical to the Irish 'Claddagh' rings. Could this be a possible origin ?

(Irish legend states it was designed by a slave captured by Moorish pirates for his sweetheart back home, and others say it is derived from Islamic 'Hand of Fatima' designs)


I heard that the wearing of the ring on the 'ring finger' as in modern times was introduced via foreign Egyptian cults as in the cult of Isis- they thought this finger contained a vein which ran directly to the heart.

I have found a site which delves into the origins of dress and wedding rings in Ancient history, this may help.

http://www.weddingringorigins.com/

Here's a snippet regarding the wearing of gold in Ancient Rome


Quote:Different laws were passed during Imperial Rome to govern the wearing of finger rings. Pliny informs us that Emperor Tiberius required that those who were not of free descent be owners of large property before having the right to wear gold finger rings.3 Emperor Severus extended the right to wear gold finger rings–jus annuli aurei–first to Roman soldiers and then to all free citizens. Silver finger rings were worn by freedmen, that is, slaves who had become free. Iron finger rings were worn by slaves. Under Emperor Justinian these restrictions were abolished. It is interesting to note that during Imperial Rome gold, silver, and iron finger rings were worn in accordance with the social class to which one belonged. The finger ring, so to speak, tied a person down to his or her social class

Regarding wedding rings

Quote:The "laws of your fathers," which restricted the use of gold to the bridal ring, presumably were laws passed in the early part of the second century; as we just noted, at the time of Pliny (about A. D. 70) only the wearing of a plain betrothal iron ring was permitted. In other words, what began in the first century as a plain iron betrothal ring to express conjugal commitment, developed by the end of the second century into elaborate gold rings to display wealth, pride, and vanity. We shall see that the same thing happened in the Christian church.
I had always been under the impression that iron at that time was precious metal. :wink:
I believe there are a number of golden rings with rectangular bezels inscribed 'Fidem Constantino', interpreted as gifts to loyal officers.
Quote: (Irish legend states it was designed by a slave captured by Moorish pirates for his sweetheart back home, and others say it is derived from Islamic 'Hand of Fatima' designs)

unless I miss my guess, the Islamic anything at all was from a time period much later than the ancient Rome we're talking about, so that's not a realistic argument to the timespan of the original thread.

The Claddagh is two hands holding a heart between them, sometimes the heart is surmounted with a crown. Taking of hands is a very ancient symbol of marriage, regardless of culture, seems like, and probably goes back further than anyone can remember or find record. I suspect Adam held Eve's hand, too, but that's another story, eh?
Quote:
Quote: (Irish legend states it was designed by a slave captured by Moorish pirates for his sweetheart back home, and others say it is derived from Islamic 'Hand of Fatima' designs)

unless I miss my guess, the Islamic anything at all was from a time period much later than the ancient Rome we're talking about, so that's not a realistic argument to the timespan of the original thread.

The Claddagh is two hands holding a heart between them, sometimes the heart is surmounted with a crown. Taking of hands is a very ancient symbol of marriage, regardless of culture, seems like, and probably goes back further than anyone can remember or find record. I suspect Adam held Eve's hand, too, but that's another story, eh?

Sorry, my post wasn't clear. Smile wink: Just a thought anyhow.
Clasping hands does indeed go back way into antiquity though, it's a natural human instinct.


Regarding iron:
Wouldn't iron rings have deteriorated quite quickly ? They'd certainly leave rusty rings on your fingers Big Grin

Is there any record of bronze rings being worn by military or civilians ?
Quote:Regarding iron:
Wouldn't iron rings have deteriorated quite quickly ? They'd certainly leave rusty rings on your fingers Big Grin
Perhaps that was the idea? A mark on your finger would show you were currently or had been married, even if you take the ring off.
I wouldn't have thought it to deteriorate if it was well taken care of. Perhaps that was even part of the point. Iron - strong material perhaps showing the bonds of marriage, but also a material that has to be well taken care of. If it is possible to tend a blade and armour in the field it is possible to take care of an iron ring. Lack of caring for the ring might show lack of caring about the marriage. I'd hate to be a legionaire coming home with a rusty wedding ring. Iron was also very valuable so its not quite like getting her the cubic zirconia ring instead of the real diamond one.
Quote:I wouldn't have thought it to deteriorate if it was well taken care of. Perhaps that was even part of the point. Iron - strong material perhaps showing the bonds of marriage, but also a material that has to be well taken care of. If it is possible to tend a blade and armour in the field it is possible to take care of an iron ring. Lack of caring for the ring might show lack of caring about the marriage. I'd hate to be a legionaire coming home with a rusty wedding ring. Iron was also very valuable so its not quite like getting her the cubic zirconia ring instead of the real diamond one.

Just wearing an iron ring would make it rust very quickly, just from general bodily sweat/ salts etc. Especially on the hands.
I wonder if the iron rings were plated with another metal, or lined with something ?
With armour and weapons, the part which is in direct contact with flesh isn't usually metal, handles are made of another inert substance, and there is usually another layer between armour and flesh.
Here's an interesting snippet, although I don't know of its veracity:

Quote:The Greek and Roman bridegroom often gave a ring to the bride's father-a practice that was probably a survival of primitive bride purchase. In the second century B. C., the Roman bride was presented with a gold ring. But this she wore only in public. Such a ring was much too precious to wear while tending to household duties; and so the groom gave the bride a second ring - for use in the home - which was usually made of iron and had little knobs in the form of a key. Of course, these "key" rings were weak and could open only those locks requiring very little force to turn, but their significance, in that the wearer had the right to seal up the giver's possessions, was strong.
http://www.oldandsold.com/articles01/article894.shtml

I've also seen mention of an iron ring protecting the wearer from evil spirits, etc. I think that tallies with ancient superstition about iron across a number of cultures, but only IIRC.
Wrought iron doesn't rust that quickly compared to steel. Tending it weekly should be enough to prevent corrosion. Even untended wrought iron is most likely to form a layer of rust on the outside while remaining structurally sound on the inside.
Can we remove from the conversation from now on references to soldiers' wedding rings? Certainly in the early empire, there is unlikely to have been any such thing, as the marriage of soldiers was not supported or approved (although it was obviously condoned at a local level).

I think we should also bear in mind, regarding the value of iron, that the amount of iron needed for a ring is pretty insignificant compared to that needed even for something like an iron stylus, which is hardly an uncommon find.

Iron was not a valuable metal in the way that (for instance) silver is. To a large extent it is a base metal, which was (and is) valued for its strength more than anything else. Please bear in mind that it was cheaper than brass and that iron items have often been found in Roman rubbish middens stripped of their (more valuable) brass fittings.

As far as I know the idea of iron as a precious metal in the ancient world was more or less limited to the Germans, who did not develop iron smithing technology as early as some of their neighbours and the Pharonic period Egyptians, who had no readily available source of iron ore and had to depend on the incredibly rare iron which came from meteorites which were occasionally discovered.

Regarding the use of iron for weapon handles, virtually all the dagger handles I have seen or have information on have an outer layer of iron, which would, of course, be against the skin when in use.


Crispvs
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