Wheeled Conveyances in Eastern Rome

Methods of travel have been on my mind a good bit lately for the 10th Century. I have seen documentation for vardos for very late in the SCA period and after, but long have wondered if something similar existed for my period and for the Eastern Romans.

A kind person sent me to a webpage that gives links to documents that show wagons of various sorts. Many examples from illuminations and carvings of wagons during the medieval period but not from my 10th century Byzantine. Still, it is a start and there ARE examples of wagons from before the 10th century. From that page of many links, the one link that caused me to get very excited is this one: Roman Traction Systems. Go look, it is an information dense page!

So, the Romans were not restricted to two wheeled conveyances only! There is a tiny bit of evidence that they had quite a good design for a comfortable wagon to carry people. This means there is the possibility of something period and similar to the later Vardo.

I am glad to see that research is moving in this direction because it simply never made sense to me that the people who could build the aquaducts, bathhouses, public buildings, temples and later Cathedrals, were actually unable to make a 4 wheeled conveyance with a pivoting front axel!

What this means for me is that I could build something to tow to SCA events that could be period, and comfortable, and hide away the modern medical items and the battery bank for running them at night, and even hide a modern RV style tank system, so I could be comfortable at events and not have to be able to set up my own tent. Drive up, drop the wagon, unload what isn’t in the wagon already, and go park the car and become my persona for the weekend.

Oh yes, this would take some doing, but it would be so much fun to have!


What I Do For Fun.. Society for Creative Anachronism: King’s College 2015

It is HOT, so I am heading off to the INDOOR summer Society for Creative Anachronism events here in Ansteorra, the premier of which is KINGS COLLEGE.  Why am I excited to attend this event? Well, try out the CLASS SCHEDULE. For how little it costs me, an event like this packs a huge punch; *details at the bottom of the article.

Now, what is your interest?

There is an entire day of classes about ARCHERY.

There are TWO tracks (or more if you count the class on playing music for dancing) for DANCE.  There is an entire track on CORALE for Renaissance music too. Carnatic Music from southern India gives a completely different experience.

FIBER ARTS: There are classes on embroidery, patterning a Persian coat, Barding for your dog (what does a well dressed dog wear in the middle ages?), hand sewing, Viking and early Medieval stitch types and the problem of finishing edges, seams and necklines, setting up an Inkle loom, simple T-tunics, How to make a St. Birgitta’s Cap, Skirt pleating for Renaissance skirts, and an introduction to Smocking.

GAMERS: there is a class about making and playing period games! Viking games anyone?

Calligraphy and Illumination: entire all day tracks of classes in this most lovely of arts.  Classes cover historical ideals of colors, for they combined colors differently than do we today.

HISTORY: punishments and methods of execution during the period covered by the SCA.

FOOD: 14th century England: foods eaten by both royalty and the common people. Middle Eastern: hummus; spices used in Middle Eastern Cooking, storing fruit and some recipes for Ottoman cuisine.

FENCING: the art of the rapier, several classes to develop your skills.

HEAVY FIGHTING: you know, knights in armor with heavy weapons and helmets.

And this does NOT include everything.


I am eagerly awaiting the day. Next Year I shall teach a class!

*CONSIDERING ATTENDING? You will need a basic pre-16th century garment to wear; a basic T-tunic works and if you check out your local SCA group, the Gold Key, Hospitaler or Chatelain will have loaner tunics.

There is a gate fee, and a $5 add on if you are not a member of the SCA, but once that is paid to the troll at the gate, you are welcome to select classes at will. SOME classes have fees to cover the hand outs or material costs, but others have no charge at all. Arrive Early to sign up for the most popular classes before they fill up. Carry one and five dollar bills in your money pouch to cover those class fees. Most classes have no fee at all.



Pearls are a major component in really fancy Byzantine clothing. The wealthier you were, the more bling– more pearls, more gold, more brocades.  An outer tunic to wear to be seen might begin with a silk brocade, then be embellished with gold thread, embroidery to add dimension and details to the already incredible brocade and then finally pearls would be sewn onto the clothing to make it really pop!

Add jewelry of gold with enameling and colorful stones and more pearls, and WOW!

Also, a civil servant might be paid in fabric, by the pound.  So while the homes of the wealthy were hardly fancier than the smaller homes of the less wealthy, the real difference was found in the clothing worn.

What you wore really did tell everyone who you were, and dictated how you were treated.

And I just purchased a hundred strands of tiny pearls. D grade, white, and roughly 3mm.  It was a good sale and as cheap as they could be had.  D grade is fairly poor quality, but still better than plastic!

So, I need to get on the ball and turn that brocade into a tunic so I can start embellishing as soon as it arrives.  I have some nice metallic gold thread to use too.  My goal is one tunic that is heavy as all get out, blinged out to the max, to be worn only in cool places where it will not get dirty, LOL!

Bit by bit the stuff comes together, now must make time to do the work– that will take a LONG time.

Have GOT to do pictures.

Meanwhile, this has nothing at all to do with pearls…