As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, women didn’t have much place in public life in ancient Roman times. There were a few exceptions, though, and one of them was Eumachia.
Eumachia was a priestess of the Imperial cult, dedicated to Venus Pompeiiana. Her father was Lucius Eumachius, who made his fortune manufacturing bricks, tiles, and amphorae. Her husband was Marcus Numistrius Fronto, who was a duovir (the next level of magistrate above aedile), and came from one of Pompeii’s most prominent families.
Eumachia was a patron of the fullers’ guild; these were the tanners, dyers, and clothing makers. In fact, she sponsored the largest building in the Pompeiian forum to be their guild hall. It is also thought that the large building was used to dye and stretch/size fabric. Tanning and laundering, both processes that used urine, would have been done elsewhere due to the smell.
The dedication plaque tells us that the building was funded by Eumachia in honor of her late husband and her son of the same name, and of the Concordia Augusta, the Augustan Peace.
One of the most unique aspects of the Eumachia building is its portico, which was made of concrete. The details are exquisite.
(Unless otherwise noted, photos are by the author.)