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A visit to an ancient Roman bakery Behind the scenes at the Mulino di Silvano in Ostia Antica

The massive bread oven at Ostia Antica

Farrell Monaco at one of the two passes to the bread oven.

Farrell Monaco at one of the two passes to the huge oven

Down the River Tiber from Rome is the huge archaeological site of Ostia Antica, which used to be the main port for the city. It’s all ruins now, of course, and open to the elements, but still incredibly suggestive. As you stroll around under the umbrella pines, it’s hard not to daydream about what things might have been like a couple of thousand years ago. In my case, with very little formal education in the matter, those daydreams are pretty foggy. When I get to something I know a little about, like a bakery, the fog clears a bit and I can begin to see some details.

With a real expert, however, things really come to life, so I was absolutely delighted to be able to visit the Mulino di Silvano at Ostia with Farrell Monaco, who has studied, and brought back to life, the canonical bread of Ancient Rome.

She brought the bakery back to life for me. It was a total treat.

Notes

  1. Farrell Monaco’s website is at Tavola Mediterranea and she’s on Twitter and Instagram too.
  2. Photos taken by me, on site.
  3. Additional music by staticpony1, messed about with a bit.
  4. Yes, there is a transcript.

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Comment

11 Comments

  1. I should add that I edited ruthlessly to fit in a single tweet. The full quote in the transcript, and better yet the words as spoken, make it clear that this was nothing about modern scholarship. But ok.

  2. Just to clear this up, I was referring to the literary record… not modern scholarship, when I was saying this. The labourers are represented in archaeology but very scantly in the ancient literary record. They weren’t a frequently covered subject to ancient Roman writers.



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  • en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_E… this is very visible even today


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  • I mean I have an entire chapter in my book just on bakers and labor but sure ok.


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  • The most moving experience I’ve had throughout the research process. ❤️


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  • Jeremy and I went down a delightful Roman baking rabbit hole together at Ostia Antica in early October. Have a listen!

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