The bikini was supposed to be as explosive a clothing garment as the hydrogen bomb which scorched the Bikini Atoll was. When it was created in 1946, it was the height of modernity—except for the fact that an ancient Roman woman would have instantly recognized it.
While modern bikinis are used for sunbathing and swimming, to the Romans, they were sportswear. A mosaic has been uncovered showing ten women taking part in various sports wearing something very similar to a modern bikini.
It was not merely a practical garment, however. The Roman bikini was an object of titillation. Poets made bawdy jokes about the women who wore them, and art was created of the wearers, possibly for men to gawk at. At Pompeii, a statue of Aphrodite was discovered showing the goddess of love in a gold bikini.