“ROMANA SUM” (the ancient Romans didn’t have lowercase letters) translates as “I am Roman,” where the single speaker is female. An alternative translation* – one I prefer aesthetically – is “I am a woman of Rome.”

I am doing my best, within the world of the SCA, to research and recreate the material culture and life of 50BC. My persona is Tullia Saturnina, a widowed midwife. Tullia’s sweetheart is Caius (my guy Robert). I am the Minister of Arts and Sciences for the Barony of Three Mountains, although I live in Dragon’s Mist (long story).

My goal is historical accuracy. If you ever catch me in a mistake (TANTUMMODO OVUM SUM) or think I’d be interested in hearing about something, PLEASE drop me a note! I’ll be posting my papers, etc to the Papers page so you can see what I’m up to. The Resources page has links to lots of info, shopping, etc. I’m not sure yet how else I will use this page. I like the idea of having time go forward at some point… Maybe post some letters from Tullia to her family members about her life, her reactions to public events as Julius Caesar’s story reaches its climax…? Who knows. Feel free to join in the conversation if there’s something you’d like to see.

*Unless you are nitpicky about Latin grammar, because it’s not in the genitive form. But “FEMINA ROMANAE SUM” doesn’t make for a snappy blog title, so bear with me.

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Posca – Roman Gatorade

Posca is a wonderfully refreshing drink that was used by Romans to deal with a hot Mediterranean climate and hard physical work. If you were poor or a soldier, it’s just vinegar and water. If you were lucky enough to afford it, honey was added.

A sugar, an acid, and water: This formula has been used as an electrolyte replacer for millennia. It’s MUCH better than water for keeping you happy and functional on a hot working day. The Persians did a mint/sugar thing called Sekanjibin. In the medieval period it was called shrub. In the American south it was switchel… until it was replaced with lemonade.

It’s super easy to make:

1 part vinegar (I use Bragg’s apple cider vinegar for its digestive benefits. The Romans would have used wine vinegar)

1 part honey

You don’t even need to heat it – just stir it a little. That gives you a syrup that is shelf stable and great for transporting to events. Dilute it about 10-1 with water in a cup or pitcher. If it burns, add more water. If it tastes bad, add more syrup. I know that sounds odd, but just trust me.

NOTE: Some people like to add in spices (coriander, ginger, etc) or mint for variety!

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Daily Life in Ancient Rome

I taught my new class for the first time last weekend at Grand Thing. It was really fun! I love bringing the little details alive… it’s what makes history sing! The handout is available here: DAILY LIFE in ANCIENT ROME. It’s mostly a list of topics, but includes references in case you want to investigate further.

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Byzantine babe attire

This is totally not my thing (personally I don’t think it’s really the Roman empire by this point) but it’s in the books on my shelves and someone asked, so…

Women’s clothing in Italy in the 5th century:

From Sebesta & Bonfante “The World of Roman Costume” come these images:

IMG_20160406_205121474.jpgIMG_20160406_205039482_HDR.jpg   IMG_20160406_205149719.jpgIMG_20160406_205211270_HDR.jpg

These last two are during Justinian’s reign, so they are a little later but the styles are similar.

From Alexandria Croom’s “Roman Clothing and Fashion” there are these:

IMG_20160406_205821898.jpgMaterials choice (ahem, giant glued fake gems on a plastic belt) is just one of the reasons I am suspicious of this book, and particularly the “recreation” section. Take with a pinch of salt.


The caption on the last one reads “Serena and her son Eucharius, late 4th century ivory diptych.”


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The History of Christmas



My Saturnalia-flavored Christmas decor, with pomegranates.

I just posted a brief paper written for Three Mountain’s 2015 Yule. The class is meant to address the secular celebratory rituals of December 25th before the 5th century, not any religious or sacred issues.

Many of the Yuletime traditions we observe actually date back to before Christmas. It’s fascinating to me how many of our current traditions have persisted for two thousand years. Look for a future paper on the Roman origin of wedding rituals… The Empire may have fallen, but we are still enacting a surprising number of Roman memes.

Read the History of Christmas!

Bonus video (not by me): The VII Days of Saturnalia! (Dec 17-23)


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Projects in the pipeline

Classes I’m developing: 1) Daily Life in Rome, and 2) a special thing for Yule – the history Christmas, starting with Saturnalia (the origin of many Christmas traditions), and then the Feast of the Unconquered Sun (Dec 25th), then handing it off to a medievalist.

I’m thinking hard about Kingdom Arts & Sciences 2016. I think I need to stick to a single entry, but the one I have in mind does encompass a few different skills. It’s a rag doll, with a hand spun/woven tunica, and possibly leather shoes, if I can figure out a way to make them historically accurate, yet work on blobby doll feet. The idea is to create a doll that Tullia would have made for her own kids or to distract the children of a patient as she’s practicing her midwifery.

I NEED to make some Roman shoes for Caius (he’s still wearing a broken pair of Jesus sandals). Of course I want more shoes too!

I want to continue research on the spintriae – those wonderful explicit coins that the public mistakenly thinks are brothel coins.

My long term project is my Roman garden. There will be a mosaic, of course. Caius is getting inspired with the plants – so far we plan on figs, lavender, rosemary, coriander, grapes, laurel, elderberry, St John’s wort, and salvia. The tricky part is going to be including Priapus (an essential figure in any Roman garden) in a way that won’t scandalize our modern 13 year old. I’m thinking we can stand him behind a big rosemary bush or something.:)

Unfortunately, life (finding a new office and moving my business, not to mention settling into the new house) has interfered with my A&S. Hopefully I can be more productive for the last quarter of 2015!

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Faux Horn Lanterns

I strive for historic accuracy, but safety comes first. At events I am living in a canvas tent, and wind is often an issue. For these reasons, I skip the romance of the open flame in favor of electric tealights. I’d love to figure out how to make a realistic-looking fake oil lamp. Until then:

Here are two lanterns found at Pompeii. They were originally fitted with translucent horn. Pompeii_live_timeline_lantern_624x741lantern

I found these lanterns at Craft Warehouse (sorry, I forgot to take a “before” pic). They are about 5″ tall, and were on sale for a buck or two (I can’t remember exactly). I also bought a sheet of vellum paper in the scrapbooking section, and some ModgePodge.

I cut little rectangles of the vellum to fit. Then I used a sponge applicator to cover a pane of glass with the Modge Podge. I found I wanted enough that it didn’t dry before I got the paper down, but not so much that the extra oozed out around the sides when I smoothed it with a fingertip.


End result: Not bad! They’re no A&S miracle, but they pass the 20 ft rule, and they are both safer than fire and cuter than bare LED candles. Super cheap, super fast… I am quite pleased.


Edited to add: I STINK! I totally forgot to mention that Eulalia Piebakere gave me the idea for these!

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Three Mountains Arts and Sciences / Bardic Championship: Oct 10, 2015

The beautiful and ancient Barony of Three Mountains summons its artisans to compete for the honor of serving as Arts and Sciences Champion on Oct 10, 2015. We are rightfully and enormously proud of our populace and its skills, and we wish to see you challenge yourselves! All those participating, either for display or entry, will see their word fame spread across the mighty Kingdom of An Tir. If you choose to enter this rigorous trial, the format and requirements you seek are listed below.

Christ United Methodist Church
12755 NW Dogwood Street
Portland, OR 97229


Entries must be period items made by your hand, period performances, or research papers on a period topic. Each item must be accompanied by documentation explaining the item’s use or purpose, time and place of origin, and the process used to make the item. Performances must be accompanied by documentation on the history of the piece and style. More detailed and in-depth documentation is strongly encouraged.

There are three themed categories:

1) Japanese, 2) Wearable (including clothing, accessories, armor, etc.), and 3) Consumable (including food, drink, personal care lotions, soaps, candles, etc – anything that gets used up). While you are welcome to present previous projects, they must never have been entered in a competition.

Display participants will not be formally judged, but the best in each category will win a prize.

Dual entry participants are eligible to be the Champion of Arts and Sciences. One  entry must fall into one of the theme categories. The second is entirely your choice. Dual entries will be evaluated by a panel of three judges, using the Kingdom Arts and Science Championship judging forms.

Each Championship entrant must draft a letter of intent to be read during morning court and presented to their Excellences.

Each Championship entrant will be provided with a table the day of the event. You are encouraged to bring a tablecloth and other items to enhance your display. How you display your work and present your knowledge to the populace is an important factor in the judging.

The Championship winner will be awarded a prize, great word fame, and the duty and honor of attending Their Excellencies in court at baronial events. The Champion generally organizes the next year’s competition. There is also regalia of the office which you may wear during your term, such that everyone will know of your triumph.


This year’s competition will be held at the Honor Feast for Kateline “Tsukiko” MacFarlane on Oct 10, 2015. The Honor Feast has a Japanese theme. Please see event website, for more event details.

All individuals intending to participate in the dual entry Championship must email Tullia Saturnina at by 11:59pm on Sept 10, 2015. Please include a description of your entries to allow for coordination of appropriate judges. Display entries must submit a brief description of their entry by Oct 1st.

If you have any general questions or need additional information or clarification on the info above please contact Tullia Saturnina at or call 503-964-3422. Thank you for your interest. I look forward to receiving your intent to compete email.

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