Women and Wool Working in the Roman Empire

Dr. Morgan A Lemmer Webber, University of Wisconsin Madison, Spring 2021


This dissertation looks at women’s roles in textile production in the Roman Empire, from the first through third centuries C.E., utilizing archaeological, epigraphic, literary, administrative, and visual evidence. The sites of Karanis, Trier, and Ephesus are used as case studies to focus analysis alongside domestic, commercial, and performative lines. Scholars have often viewed the domestic and commercial divide in textile production along gendered lines, associating domestic production with women in the context of the ideal of feminine virtue and commercial production with men working in centralized production centers. This study uses the cottage industry model to explore the role of women’s labor in the Roman textile industry, exploring the links between domestic production and commercial distribution.


Dissertation documents and text are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license by Morgan Lemmer-Webber 2021.

Links to Full Text


My dissertation is done in Scribble, which is a combination programming and markdup language built on top of Racket. The non-scribble Racket files are released under Apache v2.

You can browse the source files or even check out and compile the dissertation yourself by checking it out via git and git-annex:

$ git clone https://mlemmer.org/git/dissertation/.git/
$ cd dissertation
$ git-annex init
$ git-annex sync

From there you can pull down binary files, eg:

$ git-annex get WeavingTutorial.odt

Note a few things: