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Roman doll 150 AD

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"Livia of Rome"

Doll from 150 AD

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The story behind

The original doll belonged to a young woman named Crepereia Tryphaena who lived in Rome in the second century. She was engaged to be married but had the sad fate of dying just before her wedding at the age of 20. She was buried on the bank of the river Tiber in a marble sarcophagus which was discovered and opened in 1889 when the Hall of Justice was being built.

Alongside the girl in the sarcophagus was an ivory doll, probably with a symbolic function. At the time, custom was for brides-to-be to sacrifice the dolls from their childhood to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, on their wedding day to symbolize the entering into the life of a wife and that their virginity would end. Poor Crepereia Tryphaena, she never completed the Venus sacrifice, instead the doll joined her mistress in the grave.

Today, the ancient doll is kept in the Musei Capitolini in Rome but is not on display. It is of extraordinary artistic and handcrafted quality and was probably dressed in clothes, but these have disintegrated over the years. Her hair style is according to common hair-does in Rome in the second century AD.

The reconstructed doll

Our replica doll has been given the name Livia which was a favored name during the imperial time. She is clothed in a simple, short linen tunic common for everyday use inside the house. In addition, she wears a “stola”, a long dress in cotton for use outside the house. For cool days, she has a “palla” in wool, a rectangular drape worn over the shoulders. She also has a few jewelries such as a necklace and a bracelet. Her skin is rather white as ladies of her social standing tended to avoid sunshine.


Permission to reproduce the Crepereia Tryphaena doll has been obtained from the Musei Capitolini in Rome.
Advice given by the Historical museum in Oslo.