18 January 2013

How to style your hair like a Roman Vestal Virgin

For the first time, the hairstyle of the Roman Vestal Virgins has been recreated on a modern head.

The Vestals were priestesses who guarded the fire of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, among other sacred tasks. Chosen before puberty and sworn to celibacy, they were free from many of the social rules that limited women in the Roman era. Their braided hairstyle, the sini crenes, symbolized chastity and was known in ancient texts as the oldest hairstyle in Rome...

Janet Stephens, the Baltimore hairdresser and amateur archaeologist who unraveled the secrets of the Vestals' trademark braids... reported her findings Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle. 
Working alone on a live model with only tools ancient Romans would have had, the process takes about 35 to 40 minutes, Stephens said. Vestal Virgins, however, would likely have had slaves to dress their hair. With two or more people doing the braiding, the hairstyle could have come together in less than 10 minutes, she said.

The Vestal hairstyle requires about waist-length hair to pull off, Stephens said.
More details at LiveScience.


  1. I was struck at :30 in, by the image of the coin (the "Aureus of Nero") where the name of the goddess was rendered "VESTA" and not, as I would have guessed, "VECTA". Anyone have an explanation?

    1. A Google Image search for vesta roman coin turns up many more examples of coins showing "vesta."

    2. The Latin C in Augustus' day was always pronounced "hard" like k or the Greek kappa. The familiar soft C we think of for Caesar or Cicero are debased late medieval pronunciations. The form of the Latin S comes from the form of sigma used at the end of words in Greek


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