The History of School Uniforms: Ancient Civilizations

Figure 1.--.

While the focus of HBC is on the modern era. HBC plans to also collect information on ancient civilizations. Schools in Europe or relatively modern developments as during the medevil era writing and academic education was lost except for a small number, mostly mooks. Schools were, however, common in many ancient civilizations. While some information is available on these schools, there is little to suggest that they wore destinctive uniforms. HBC has, however, only collected alimited amount of information on the topic.


No information available yet.


No information available yet.


The primary goal of education in ancient Rome was to be an effective speaker. The school day began before sunrise, as did all work in Rome. Kids brought candles to use until daybreak. There was a rest for lunch and the afternoon siesta, and then back to school until late afternoon. No one knows how long the school year actually was; it probably varied from school to school. However, one thing was fixed. School began each year on the 24th of March!

Historical development

In early Roman days, a Roman boy's education took place at home. If his father could read and write, he taught his son to do the same. The father instructed his sons in Roman law, history, customs, and physical training, to prepare for war. Reverence for the gods, respect for law, obedience to authority, and truthfulness were the most important lessons to be taught. Girls were taught by their mother. Girls learned to spin, weave, and sew.

About 200 BC, the Romans borrowed some of the ancient Greek system of education. Although they did not add many subjects, they did begin sending their boys, and some of their girls, with their father's permission, to school, outside their home, at age 6 or 7.


The children studied reading, writing, and counting. They read scrolls and books. They wrote on boards covered with wax, and used pebbles to do math problems. They were taught Roman numerals, and recited lessons they had memorized. At age 12 or 13, the boys of the upper classes attended "grammar" school, where they studied Latin, Greek, grammar, and literature. At age 16, some boys went on to study public speaking at the rhetoric school, to prepare for a life as an orator.

Social structure

Did the kids of the poor go to school? At the poorer levels, no. School was not free. Nor should anyone imagine large classes in special buildings. Children, educated outside of the home, were sent to the house of a tutor, who would group-tutor. Children, educated in the home, were taught by intelligent and gifted slaves. Children, in poorer homes, did not have slaves to teach them; they were taught by their parents, as they were in early Roman days.

School clothes

As there were no large classes in special buildings, Roman children do not appear to have orn special school uniforms of anmy kind. Rather they wore their normal clothes.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: May 5, 1999
Last updated: December 30, 1999