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Beyond their basic subsistence needs, human beings have always wanted to own objects that satisfy their most intimate and personal aspects, as well as to have moments for relaxation and leisure. Sedentarisation in the Neolithic, and above all the production of surpluses in the Greek and Roman cultures, allowed them to have sufficient resources to manufacture, buy and import consumer goods. Many of these were considered luxuries, both for the valuable materials with which they were made, that were not generally available, and for the work and specialised techniques of those who made them. A very different area was that of play, an activity as old as the human species itself and an integral part of its socialisation and leisure, which saw a remarkable development in ancient societies.

Objects intended for hygiene and personal care, as well as medical and surgical instruments. Objects that facilitated trade, such as weights, measures and coins, as well as writing materials and instruments. The last of these allowed the transmission and establishment of ideas and knowledge that, until the advent of writing, could only be transmitted orally. Thus began an explosion in the possibilities and abilities to communicate all types of content that continues to this day. Welfare and leisure, physical pleasure and spiritual and intellectual enjoyment.


The desire to adorn significant parts of the body has been documented since the Palaeolithic and could also have been a way of differentiating notable members of the group. Necks, fingers, wrists, ears, heads and ankles would be adorned with items found in nature. The extraction of metals, the transformation of minerals and the application of gems to create these small luxury items would have involved a unique manufacturing specialisation.

The display of jewellery, however, corresponded to need for social presentation and status indication that exceeded the temporal limits of life itself. For this reason, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings, pendants, brooches or buckles are often found in tombs, as a funeral accompaniment to those who had worn them during their lives.

Cure and personal hygiene

Daily body hygiene habits have changed significantly over time. In the classical world (Greek and Roman), bathing became a social and leisure expression, as well as therapy and a part of everyday life. Women and men devoted part of their time to hygiene and body care.

Perfumes and games

Since prehistoric times, humans have burned fragrant woods and resins to give off pleasant aromas and smells, especially in places of worship, at shrines and in funeral rituals, as well as in daily life and on personal attire. The containers they used, of various shapes and origins, held scented oils that were distributed through trade as exotic and prestigious items.

Play is a form of socialisation inherent in humanity. Free time, without activity, led to the birth of hundreds of games that we still enjoy today. In ancient times, adult games occupied long hours of leisure, especially board games and games of chance.

Exchange and commerce

As soon as humanity was able to generate surpluses, there was trade and commerce. Even before the advent of currency, exchange was the means of obtaining certain goods in return for others. River or sea navigation was the main route of communication, transport and trade. Trade in ancient times was a structured activity, with well-defined routes and vessels and ports adapted to that task.

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