Much is known about the lives of men in the ancient Graeco-Roman world but how about the everyday lives of women, children, slaves and artisans?

A glimpse into these hidden lives is on offer at the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne from now until May 17 2024, with a two-part exhibition ‘Ancient Lives: Insights from the Classics and Archaeology Collection’.

This insight into life in the Greek and Roman worlds is displayed with a number of every day, ritual and luxury objects from the collection.

The entire collection, not all part of the exhibition, began in 1901 and holds an important role in teaching and research at the Uni, with over 300 items of significant holdings of Classical, Cypriot and Near Eastern material.

One part of the exhibition: ‘Amor et Mors: Vessels for the Beautiful Body in Life and Death’, displays items of beauty such as perfume bottles and dishes that may have been used for cosmetics. Said beauty items were used for the living and the dead, the latter before burial.

The second part of the exhibition is titled ‘White, Tawny, Blood-red, Black: Wine in the Greek and Roman Worlds’, and explores how significant wine was to the ancient civilisations.

Wine was used for medicinal purposes, and even was in the universal diet for everyone, including children.

The drink was diluted with water back then because drinking water was often contaminated and was safer when mixed with the acidic and alcohol content.

On display are coins that depict wine offerings to the gods.

Cups and jugs, gold coins and terracotta statuettes, a marble cupid, a bronze wrestler, glass bottles and cosmetic pots are some of the objects displayed at the Ian Potter Museum.

It is open at the Old Quad, the University of Melbourne, Parkville until May 17 2024, Monday to Friday 10am-5pm.

Entry is free and there are free Open Day curators’ talks at 11.30am on Sunday 20 August 2023.