Roman Bags

A quick summary of the finds of Roman era pouches/purses/leather bags known to me

First, we know of large, rectangular bags with side panels as found on the Comacchio ship wreck.
A variant also from that ship is a bag that simply consists of one folded or two sheets of leather, front and back. For carrying these can have a shoulder strap and/or handle.


Drawstring bags: These can be made of just one (circular) piece of leather, like the one found at Vindolanda or of several pieces with a front and back panel. Of these several have been found, e.g. at Bargercompascuum, again in the Comacchio wreck, at Vindonissa, or at the Cave of Letters in Israel. Size can certainly vary, but from the finds it can be said that a height and width of about 25-30 cm seems to have been common.


We also know of other types of smaller bags, one being of a rectangular, purse-like form without any means of closing tight besides a leather flap.


Then there is a bag or container that seems to have been made especially for stowing writing tablets, examples of which have been found at Vindonissa and Vindolanda. Both of the above types have side panels with the main body being made of one sheet of leather.


For all the tyes of bags described above, decorational stitching and/or leather applications are a common feature, as well as the usage of variously colored/dyed leather.
One thing that to my kowledge has not been found so far is any kind of  bag with belt loops as a way of attaching/carrying.


There is probably more of those finds out there than what I could find and have reported, so if you happen to know of any other finds, please let me know!



  • Berti, Fede. Fortuna maris. La nave romana di Comacchio. Bologna, 1990.
  • Schlabow, K. Der römische Münzschatz von Bargercompascuum (Drenthe). II. Der Geldbeutel. Palaeohistoria 5, 1956: 81-87.
  • Yadin, Yigael. The Finds from the Bar Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters. Jerusalem, Israel Exploration Society, 1963.
  • Vindolanda. Research Reports, New Series. Vol. III The Early Wooden Forts. Carol van Driel-Murray, John Peter Wild et al. 1993
  • Groenman-van Waateringe, W.: Römische Lederfunde aus Vindonissa und Valkenburg Z.H.; ein Vergleich. Gesellschaft pro Vindonissa. Jahresbericht 1974, 62-84
  • Baatz, D. "Lederne Gürteltaschen römischer Soldaten", Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 13, 1983: 359-61
  • Schultze, M. "Spätkaiserzeitliche Gürteltaschen mit Knebelverschluss", Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 12, 1982: 501-9