When countries around the world grapple with the legalization of prostitution, what, if anything, can we learn from the legalized brothels of ancient Pompeii? Sarah Levin-Richardson's new book deals with the economic, social and legal complexity of old sex work. The book is the first to deal systematically with our only surviving “purpose-built” Roman brothel that was sealed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
In 1862, archaeologists began excavating the two-story brothel between the Pompeii Forum and its main north-south business district. It was aimed at Roman men who bought sexual services from both male and female prostitutes. Only five years after its first excavation, Mark Twain visited the building and noticed that female tourists were prevented from entering at this time
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