Did people in ancient Greece or Rome have red hair? Is there evidence to support this?

Faisal Azam

Yes, people in ancient Greece and Rome did have red hair, although it was not as common as other hair colors. Red hair was associated with the god of war, Ares, in Greek mythology, and the Romans believed that redheads would turn into vampires after they died. While these beliefs may be rooted in superstition, there is evidence to support the existence of red-haired individuals in ancient Greece and Rome.

One famous example is the poet Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos in the 6th century BC. Sappho was described as having red hair in some of her contemporaneous works, and her appearance was often depicted in ancient art with red hair. Additionally, the Roman author Pliny the Elder mentioned red-haired individuals in his writings, noting that red hair was more common among certain tribes in northern Europe.

Archaeological evidence also supports the presence of red-haired individuals in ancient Greece and Rome. For example, the Fayum mummy portraits, which date back to Roman Egypt, depict individuals with a variety of hair colors, including red. These portraits provide a glimpse into the diverse range of appearances among the people of the ancient world.

Furthermore, genetic studies have shown that the gene for red hair, known as MC1R, has been present in human populations for thousands of years. While the frequency of red hair may have varied across different regions and time periods, it is clear that redheads did exist in ancient Greece and Rome.


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