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Radio 4 Woman's hour had an interesting discussion on the leather knickers found in London. Evidently some 4 pairs have been found worldwide now. Two more in England which had a material backing showing through sexy cutouts and a very matronly pair in Mainz. All in Leather.They evidently had folds in them which could only be female. There was speculation as to the reason for wearing them . Was it the Gladiatrix were they dancing girls or were they sanitary wear for periods or post delivery. Personally I have never worn leather close to the skin but I would not have thought they would be very comfy long term!
Personally I cannot see the point of underwear for Roman ladies in ordinary use except for sanitary purposes. Just like their husbands I don't think they they could be bothered with them. After all in modern times they were not worn until the 1820s!!
hello Derek

A report on the famous 'Bikini' Briefs is available in The Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society Vol 33.1982 by Tony Wilmott of Time Team fame.

In fact as the article points out the term 'Bikini' is a bit misleading as there is not much evidence that briefs of this type were ever worn with an upper garment. Those illustrated on the Piazza Armerina mosaic do not appear to have been leather while a number of figurines and drawings of female athletes or acrobats show them being worn on their own.

Some of the figures also have knee pads and decorations on the briefs like the cut outs found on the Shadwell Tower pair. These are reported in the Shadwell Tower excavation report available from the Museum of London. 'Roman Leather' by Carol van Driel Murray p.57 in 'The Roman Tower at Shadwell, London: A reappraisal'. MOLAS Archaeology Studies Series 8 2002. Driel-Murray also points out the alternative use of these briefs as Derek has pointed out, to their otherwise popular role assigned to dancing girls or acrobats.

A small statuette of Venus from Pompeii wears a similar type of briefs picked out in gold paint suggesting some of the more elaborate versions could even have been gilded.