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Ancient/Classical History/ancient Greek and Roman maritime attire


Hi Maria,

I have tried unsuccessfully to discover what type of clothing sailors or laboring crew members would have worn on ancient Greek and Roman merchant ships around AD 50. Did they wear regular tunics, or did they have trousers available to them?

Thank you so much!


As far as we know, the sailors working on  ancient Greek and Roman merchant ships around AD 50 wore a kind of  tunic that landed above the knees and had a thick leather belt, while  a short cloak  was added for colder weather.

But the oarsmen  who sat underneath the deck and had a fixed seat (with leather or wool cushion) were naked, as you can see at the following link:

On the contrary,the ships that were intended for war actions had, of course,  a crew armed by darts, spears and axes, while the rowers force allowed to move forward even against the head wind without lowering the sails.

Such war ships  had a long narrow deck that soldiers could run along and fight from, as we see in a Roman sailing ship with square sails (100s AD, mosaic,  Bardo Museum, Tunisia)!

I'm afraid I cannot help you more, for we have few information about this matter.

Best regards,


Ancient/Classical History

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My field of expertise is Ancient Greek and Roman History.


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I received my Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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