Abstracts
Monday 23.8.

Research event

Katrin Kania Tablet-Weaving: Weaving Complex Patterns Without Paper Drafts

Some surviving tablet-woven bands, such as the stole and maniple from Arlon or the maniple of St Ulrich, show very complex patterns on the basis of diagonals or so-called 3/1 broken twill technique.

 

While these bands have been researched and reproduced, partly or completely, in the past, this was always done with the help of a written pattern draft. Written patterns are, however, most probably not the way that these bands were originally made.

 

This crafting session will present a method to weave complex patterns freestyle, without pattern drafts, and thus a possible way in which these patterns may originally have been designed and woven.

​Mervi Pasanen It´s all about details – Finnish late iron age dress finishing and accessories

What makes Finnish iron age dress? The small details, like how fabrics are finished, how they are decorated and what accessories you have. See how they are made and try yourself. Get to know basic techniques in tablet woven edges, bronze spiral decorations, tablet weaving and finger braiding.

 

Sanna Lipkin, Ville Karjalainen & Mikko Finnilä Micro-computed tomography of archaeological textiles – Benefits and limitations

Micro-computed tomography (µCT) can provide three-dimensional information from various physical objects nondestructively. This provides new possibilities for studying material culture. Thus, small pieces of textiles originating from Valmarinniemi and Hailuoto in northern Finland have been µCT imaged with Bruker microCT at the Research Unit of Medical Imagining, Physics and Technology at the University of Oulu. In these textiles we identified for example tablet-woven bands, felted woolen fabrics and corduroy.

Johanna Banck-Burgess Early Textile Production: Mesolithic hunter-gatherer cultures as trailblazer 

The archaeological record suggests that bark and lime bast had an essential role in Mesolithic hunter-gatherer equipment used for hunting and fishing as well as a constructive role in temporary compounds. The finds from the European area that have been documented indicate that an essential knowledge and experience for the processing of these raw materials, especially the processing and working of textiles, must have been present. In the context of the evolution of successive cultural groups stemming from settled communities the question arises as to what state of knowledge was indispensable for sustaining the outstanding quality of textile production that is evident, for example, in the Neolithic lakeside settlements in the Alps, that is currently being researched as part of the Thefbo research project. (www.thefbo.de) Although flax and weaving were understood by the beginning of the 4th millennium, the focus in these pile-dwelling settlements had been on lime bast, a processing method that can be traced back suggesting important knowledge that was handed down. Based on the material from Mesolithic locations, textile products are predominantly common in the context of fishing (aquaculture). However, in the same context is an issue that is often discussed but inadequately proven, namely organic containers. The bark containers discovered in early Neolithic wells in Saxony and lower Saxony in Germany, for example, belong to the “Linearbandkeramiker” groups that are linked to the earliest farming in central Europe. This contribution is concerned with the question as to what extent Mesolithic textiles played a constructive role in following Neolithic cultures.

Tuesday 24.8.

Early textile production 

 

Weronika Skrzyniecka Textile impressions on the Trypillia culture pottery 

Due to the limited number of materials associated with textile production from the Neolithic and Eneolithic, especially in regard to Eastern Europe, its indirect remains present an important and valuable source of information. One of the materials that testifies to textile production is pottery with textile impressions. The aim of this paper is to present and discuss the results of microscopic analyses of textile impressions, identified on selected sherds of ceramic vessels from the eneolithic Trypillia culture sites in Bilcze Złote, Ukraine. Moreover, it is intended as an introduction to further research on the still only partially recognized textile crafting of the eneolithic Trypillia communities. During the research three basic categories of textile-related products were identified: pottery with intentional cord imprints, impressions of various types of non-woven textiles, as well as woven fabrics of varying thickness and density. This presentation also highlights the issue of using textiles in the technological process of pottery manufacturing. Identification of the degree of technological advancement of textile production provides a basis for comparative studies and new interpretations regarding regional specialization, both in terms of cultivation and craft, which represents an important part of socio-economic organization.

 

Monika Kaczmarek Neolithic Pottery as a Source for Research on Prehistoric Textile Production – Possibilities and Limitations 

The knowledge about textile production in the Neolithic period is relatively poorly both the Polish Lowland and entire Europe because textile products degrade easily as they are deposited in the ground. Microscopic analysis of vessel type ceramics ornamented with so-called cord ornament, which was a universal decorative motif used by the lowlands communities 4th and 3rd millennium BC, can provide entirely new information on this topic. Unfortunately, apart from a few exceptions, such research is virtually not done. The use of microscopic analysis of source material in combination with a comparative examination of textile tools and archaeological experiment will allow broadening our knowledge about textile production of the New Stone Age. The analysis will also introduce a new interpretation of source material, which so far has not been either analyzed textile-wise or studied in general.

 

The aim of the poster will be discussing potential and limitations to the research of textile imprints on the pottery. It also will be discussing the results of the project entitled. The textile on vessels captured. Identification of the textile production of Neolithic communities in the western part of the Polish Lowland based on the analysis of ornaments impressed on funeral ceramics of the 4th and 3rd millennia BC and financed by National Science Centre, Poland (no. 2017/25/N/HS3/01686).

 

Clare Privilege Textile production “lacunae”: The case study of prehistoric Ireland 

The vast majority of evidence for textile production in Ireland is without provenance or dates from the Early Medieval period.  In contrast, there appears to be a particular dearth of textiles and tools from the prehistoric period and with no large-scale study concentrating on the prehistoric evidence, despite recent increases in the number of excavation licences granted in Ireland, knowledge of production methods is lacking.

 

To address this problem, this research has combined existing and new data and is bringing together various strands of evidence, from tools and raw materials to sites and artefacts, ranging from Mesolithic fish traps to Iron Age bog body coverings.  This data provides a base to develop a new methodology to interrogate the emergence and development of textile production in prehistoric Ireland. 

 

The research highlights some of the effects of the reactive nature of commercialised developer-led excavations that have dominated Irish archaeology since the late 1990s.  Apart from publications by government-funded agencies and academic research-driven projects, there is still a significant body of unpublished archaeological data in Ireland, raising questions about the effectiveness of ‘preservation by record’ as a means of protecting archaeological heritage.

 

Bronze Age fibres and fabric production

 

Susanna Harris Fabrics of the Late Bronze Age pile-dwelling settlement of Must Farm, Britain 

The pile-dwelling settlement of Must Farm has revealed the most remarkable assemblage of fibre and fabric artefacts in Late Bronze Age Britain. These fragile organic materials are preserved due to the effects of charring, the soil matrix and the deep, damp deposits. Dated around 850 BC, this short-lived settlement burnt down soon after it was constructed, and the excavation revealed rich distributions of plant fibre artefacts from the collapsed settlement floor. The fibre and fabric assemblage includes five categories of finds: processed fibres extracted from plants, prepared threads, twined fabrics, woven textiles and knotted nets. These include many artefacts not known from elsewhere in Bronze Age Britain. For example, there are single and plied threads wound around sticks that are part of the textile production process, bundles of processed fibre and twined fabrics with tufted pile surfaces. This evidence offers a unique opportunity to investigate the multiple stages of fabric production in a Late Bronze Age settlement, the types of fabrics the people of Must Farm produced, and the spatial distribution of these processes within the pile-dwelling settlement.

 

Margarita Gleba Textile fibres at the Bronze Age settlement of Must Farm, UK: species identification and processing 

​ Excavations at Must Farm in Cambridgeshire, UK uncovered the largest collection of textiles from the Bronze Age in Britain. The material includes unprocessed plants, prepared fibre bundles, thread wound in balls or on wooden bobbins, twined fabrics, loom-woven fabrics, knotted net and bark vessels with stitching. All of the fibres are of plant origin and include both cultivated and wild plant species. In this paper, I will present the results of the systematic fibre identification using Scanning Electron Microscopy. I will also discuss the characteristics of fibre processing, which indicate that the threads were produced by splicing. The presence of different stages of production at Must Farm allows us, for the first time in European prehistory, to reconstruct in detail the chaîne opératoire of the splicing process, which has important ramifications for how we interpret the archaeological evidence of plant fibre technologies in prehistory.

Celia Elliott-Minty A braided bracelet/armband found in a Bronze Age cist on Dartmoor, UK: how might it have been made?

During the excavation of an Early Bronze Age cremation burial cist on Dartmoor, Devon, UK, the incomplete remains of a braided band made of cow hair adorned with metallic studs were found alongside other artefacts. It was about 165 mm long and between 3 and 4.5 mm wide: one end appeared to be complete whereas the other end was frayed.

This study started by closely examining digital photographs to determine the structure of the braid and what that might reveal about its creation. Then the possible methods by which the braid could have been produced were explored because a given structure can often be achieved in more than one way. The most likely technology available to the Bronze Age braider was considered, as was the behaviour of the cow hair during manipulation. Both free-end and loop braiding could have been used during prehistory, so these were chosen as likely methods. Cow tail hair was sourced from two old breeds of cattle.

The poster will briefly explain the braiding methods and discuss the results. This experimental archaeology project was carried out in association with Susanna Harris, University of Glasgow.

 

Agata Ulanowska Ariadne’s Thread Reconsidered: The Evidence for Yarns and Cordage in the Aegean Bronze Age from the Impressions on Undersides of Clay Sealings 

Although actual textiles were only occasionally preserved in the archaeological record of Bronze Age Greece, their imprints on clay may provide indirect, yet valuable information about the qualities and production techniques of now unpreserved products. Abundant evidence from impressions of various threads and cords is available in the collection of modern casts of clay sealings, stored in the Archive of the Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel, at the University of Heidelberg. The casts document direct object sealings, i.e. the undersides of the lumps of clay which were directly placed on an object to be sealed by stamping one or more seals, as well as indirect sealings, i.e. stamped clay nodules attached to the objects by cords, or sealings made using small packets of folded organic materials wound with fine thread.

In this paper, I specifically aim to compare the qualities and production techniques of yarns coming from distant regions and times, in this case Early Bronze Age Lerna on the Mainland, and Middle Bronze Age Phaistos on Crete. The presented research was undertaken as part of the project ‘Textiles and Seals. Relations between Textile Production and Seals and Sealing Practices in Bronze Age Greece’ (NCN SONATA 13, UMO-2017/26/D/HS3/00145).

 

Malgorzata Siennicka Textile tools from MBA/LBA Argos in the Argolid, Greece: clay reels, weaving, and textile techniques

The Middle Bronze Age (MBA, c. 2000-1700 BCE) in Mainland Greece remains poorly understood in terms of textile production, and particularly of weaving. Responsible for that are a limited data published from several known settlements and graves on one hand, and on the other, a very low number of loom weights discovered. Argos was one of the most prominent settlements in the Argolid, with a considerable amount of textile implements revealed, but not even a single loom weight dated to the MBA/LBA period came to light until now. Since textile tools were discovered in well-documented and dated contexts, we are able to make some observations regarding textile manufacture and techniques performed in the settlement. The so-called clay reels (or lengthwise pierced spools) are here of particular interest as they have been interpreted as tools for warping for a horizontal loom. The aim of this paper is, among other things, to re-consider a long-debated question of use of horizontal loom in MBA Greece, and the potential functions of the reels in textile production.

 

Vendel and Viking Age textiles

 

Santa Jansone & Artis Aboltins Textiles and armour during Vendel period in Scandinavia and Baltic 

The increasing attention has been drawn to the armour and different elements of it. Metallic armour prevails in those articles and monographies, usually losing their connection with textiles. If the research papers or monographies on medieval armour mentions (though without separate analysis) the use of textile in the war (usually aketons, gambesons etc.), they usually concentrate on the Middle Ages, paying particular attention to the High and Late Middle Ages, as well as the Crusades and the Viking period. Some researchers draw attention to arms and armour in the Vendel and Migration period, but for most part tend to ignore evidence of textile armour.

The authors of the paper have focused on this less-studied part of the history, looking at both direct textile findings next to armour and weapons that once might been a single unit, and also evidence that could indicate presence of separate textile armour. This includes examination of pressbleach plates from helmets, Goldgubber and other pictorial evidence.

 

Tracy Niepold Visible but not visualizable – challenges in analysing degraded textile remnants preserved in the so-called singer’s burial of Trossingen

The water staunching ability of clay layers dominating certain geographic regions of southwestern Germany allows for good preservation conditions of organic grave goods in the alamannic cemetery of Trossingen. The 2002 excavated burial of a man (dendrodated 580 AD), furnished among others with a variety of wooden furniture, a fully intact lyre and a large amount of degraded textile layers is therefore an auspicious research topic. The so-called singer’s burial was excavated as a bloc lift to allow careful preparation under laboratory conditions and a profound investigation of the preserved textiles and other organic materials. Remarkable are a fine multi-coloured weft-faced compound weave (Taqueté) and two tapestry weavings that shed new light on textiles in early medieval burials and the spread of imported textiles.

This talk will focus on the challenges that came along with the investigation of textile remnants influenced by complex migration and degradation processes due to the preservation in wet soil. Efforts made for preparing the fibre samples, limitations and possibilities of performed microscopic analyses and the usability of simple micro chemical tests will be presented.

Ulla Mannering Fashioning the Viking Age

In this presentation I outline the new project Fashioning the Viking Age and present the first results and outcomes. The project is a collaboration (2018-2021) between National Museum of Denmark, Centre for Textile Research at University of Copenhagen and Land of Legends in Lejre, funded by the VELUX FOUNDATIONS.

 

The aim of the project is to create new and archaeologically well-founded interpretations and reconstructions of Viking Age textiles and clothing that can be used in exhibitions, teaching and popular outreach about the variated life in the Viking Age. In Part 1. Viking Age Textile Production, different textile types and tools are reconstructed based on archaeological finds from graves and settlements. The outcome is a Textile & Tool Box, that provides a hands-on experience of Viking Age textile production. In Part 2. Viking Age Male and Female Clothing, a complete male and female outfit will be constructed based on the finds from Mammen and Hvilehøj in Denmark (AD 900s). The reconstructions can be used for exhibitions and outreach purposes. In Part 3. Viking Age Clothing Catalogue, we create an overview of the many different archaeological, iconographical and written sources linked to Scandinavian clothing design. The outcome is an online open-access catalogue.

 

Ida Demant & Eva Andersson Strand Textile production and craft people in Viking Age - new analyses and results 

An important aim of project “Fashioning the Viking Age” is to make Reconstructions of tools and textiles of varied qualities. Therefore, three reconstruction samples of newly analyzed textiles from the harbor of Hedeby, were produced. The samples will be part of a “textile tool-box” to be used for outreach purposes were they will present the tactile dimension of Viking Age textiles. Reconstruction of Viking Ages textiles have been done previously as well as tests of different types of contemporary tools and textile techniques. In order to expand our knowledge on not only the Viking Age textile manufacturing but also on the craft people skills and knowhow it was decided to combine these methods. The premise for the samples was that they should be made with wool fibres as close to the original as possible and further, produced with exact reconstructions of tools, generally from Viking Age Hedby. The first results have given new insights in craft people’s use and choices of tools and raw materials and clearly demonstrated the complexity of Viking Age textile production. In this paper, we will present our results and discuss how they can be interpreted in a wider context.

 

Annika Larsson Silk Samite in the Viking Age female Boatgrave 36, Gamla Uppsala: a Textile Review

During a two-year assignment as project manager for the establishment of a new archive for the archaeological collections at Uppsala University, I had the privilege to study their textile collections. In my research, I am mainly interested in Viking Age textiles. These collections consist exclusively of grave finds, especially from boatgraves. The preserved textiles are mostly silks, which applies to both male and female graves. However, the material is poorly published. In the article "Asian Silk in Viking Age Graves" (Larsson 2020), I got the opportunity to present the rich silk material from the boatgraves in Valsgärde - all male. However, there are silk remains also from a female boatgrave in Gamla Uppsala. These finds have previously been published in "Båtgravar i Gamla Uppsala" (Nordahl 2001). In my study of the concrete material, misinterpretations were discovered. This applies not only to a previously assumed "horse grave" which turned out to be a dead cow from the 17th century, but also to interpretations concerning silk weaving techniques. This paper is a review of the textile remains in the female Boatgrave 36. Focus is on highlighting silk samite in the Viking Age burial costumes, an interpretation that allows possession in larger cultural contexts.

 

Karolina Pallin Brocaded tablet-woven bands from Viking age boat graves in Valsgärde, Sweden - different techniques, similar appearance 

Brocaded tablet-woven bands from Viking age boat graves in Valsgärde, Sweden - different techniques, similar appearance Textiles are an important source material for cultural and social research and as such it can be approached in several different ways. This paper focuses on the technical aspects of tablet woven bands from the Viking Age boat graves in Valsgärde, Sweden. By detailed studies of the material combined with craft research as a method, the weaving techniques are understood. All bands are made with reeled silk, possibly also vegetable fibre, and are brocaded with metal thread. The result shows that the bands can be divided in three categories based on material and technique. Group one has geometric patterns made with lifted warp threads on a brocaded silver background made with silver lamella thread. Group two is of a similar appearance, but the pattern is made with a silk weft in a soumak technique. Group three has a brocading weft of drawn silver wire, used single. This paper gives a detailed description of the weaving techniques and materials. The problematics of researching craft-traditions and origins will also be addressed. The aim is to make the material known to a wider community of researchers so these results and questions can be further discussed.

Wednesday 25.8.

Colourful past 

 

Annemette Bruselius Scharff, Dorte V. P. Sommer & Jane Richter New investigations of the red and brown yarns from the Danish Iron age textiles - Lønne Hede 

The Danish Iron Age textiles found in inhumations graves in Jutland were unique because of their multicoloured large wool fragments – a surprising discovery in a waterlogged environment. Several dyestuff analyses were done with positive results for blue and yellow dyes, but never for red or brown dyestuffs. The use of natural coloured wool, was excluded in nearly all samples, while other results suggested the use of tannins as dyestuffs. Since it has not been possible to get any closer to the identity of the red and brown dyestuffs by using the well-known dyestuff identification methods, then we have approached the problem differently. Based on literature studies we have investigated which plants, plant parts and dyeing methods that were most likely used in the Danish Iron Age for red and brown wool. We concluded that bark of Rhamnus frangula and Betula pendula and root of Potentilla erecta were possible candidates for red or brown colours, and furthermore that the plant material should be fermented before the dyestuff could bind to a non-mordanted wool.  Experiments will be carried out in order to test if it is possible to obtain a water- and wash-fast red or brown colour similar to the yarns from Lønne Hede. Furthermore, it will be tested if these dyes react in the same way as the original Iron Age textiles, which means that they are impossible to extract and identify. The work is in progress.

 

Riina Rammo, Krista Vajanto & Mervi Pasanen Searching for mastery in dyeing – blackish blue on Estonian textile finds (11th–15th c) 

Textile finds in Estonian archaeological collections become abundant only from the 11th century onward. Since then and until the 16th century one of the dominant colours used on textiles in rural communities seems to be blackish blue. Definitely, blue dyeing was important technique in local textile craft. On the basis of preliminary analysis, the main compound used for blue dyeing was woad (Isatis tinctoria L.). Woad is not native to Estonia, although nowadays it is growing sporadically in coastal areas and it has been assumed that woad was probably imported to eastern Baltic. The chemical analyses showed clearly that the dye recipe was more complicated and to achieve the desired colour the woad dye was mixed often with local lichens (possibly Lasallia pustulata L.) that gave purple hues. The aim of the complex dyeing process was probably to achieve as dark hue as possible. Similar recipe was widely spread in medieval Europe. This study seeks answers to the questions how the dyeing process looked like, which kind of recipes were used, where did the imported woad originate from and how did the trade routes changed in the course of time?

 

Amica Sundström & Maria Neijman Medieval textile in seal bags versus archaeological textiles from Swedish cities ​

Medieval textile in seal bags versus archaeological textiles from Swedish cities From the Middle Ages there are a large number of wool fragments from different archaeological city excavations. The original color of the fragments cannot be interpreted as the fabrics have lost their color in the soil. A color analysis would answer which pigment is used, but cannot give an exact nuance response. In the National Archives' collections there are a number of medieval documents with associated seal. In order to protect the wax seal, these have the purpose of maintaining the seal in a bag of textile. The documents and the textile can be linked to an exact date. The bags have been sheltered from direct sunlight and therefore have a more original color than the archaeological material. The National Archives' collections also include a variety of colored linen bags in, among other things, blue and light red. Linen is poorly preserved in the soil, which means that linen is unusual in the Swedish archaeological material. Because of this, it is of great interest to see what qualities these linen bags have. Linen has not been dyed in other colors than blue, which makes it interesting when other colors occur. By studying these two different collections, one can add color to the archaeological material and present a palette of the most recent 14th century's most common fabric qualities and colors in wool and linen.

 

Kelvin Wilson A Visual Compendium of Prehistoric Fashions 

​The family tree of costume history has deep roots. Countless generations, countless people, all dressed up for purpose or fancy— with its metaphorical genes in the details of manufacturing, and everyone’s fabulous looks betraying where they got them from.

Nonetheless, the costumes of times B.C.E. are often only visualised through their torn fragments, discoloured by earth, or through already famous highlights. There are no well-researched overviews available in which the layman or scholar, filmmaker or designer can put them in context. Yet...

This poster previews Kelvin Wilson’s project ‘Tribal Europe’. A visual compendium of prehistoric fashion, it trails its narrative path from mesolithic antler headdresses through to the red-dyed linen tunics of Copper Age Spain, through the bronze-clad ladies of Bronze Age Germany, to the fur capes of Northern Europe, and all manners of dress and looks in-between. ‘Tribal Europe’ sets out to make our times familiar with the bright, sometimes weird and often hitherto unseen wonders of clothing in the most ancient times.

Kelvin Wilson Fashions of Fur 

Kelvin Wilson’s project ‘Tribal Europe’ has a chapter dedicated to fur and leather capes of the Iron Age. Redrawing them in colour and refitting them on bodies has produced insights hitherto overlooked— about function, looks, and perhaps fashions in the capes’ manufacture.

The poster will show new visualisations of the capes, ‘as new’. They will be shown draped on people, their context reconstructed to the highest standards. Well-known finds will be shown beside lesser-known finds, in new visual manners different from scholarly literature.

The effect is that one somewhat forgets the many millennia to have passed since brown, black and white all-weather capes were all the fashion.

 

Nina Manninen Gold, silk and treasures from the Orient – Catherine Jagiellon's wardrobe in inventories 1562–1563 

​ The poster presents the wardrobe of Catherine Jagiellon, duchess of Finland, according to contemporary inventories. The documentary evidence of her wardrobe consists mainly of the dowry written in Polish in 1562 and the inventories written in Swedish in 1563. Both documents are complete and dated, in contrast to what has been previously thought.

 

The data available has not been used in its entirety in previous studies, and the results are outdated. Moreover, the subject has not been studied earlier as such. This poster presents new findings acquired by making use of the data in its totality and pieces together the information focusing specifically on the subject at hand.

 

By translating the documents, analyzing the entries and comparing them with each other it has been possible to make new findings of the wardrobe. In addition to bringing to light dozens of previously unknown articles of clothing, the documents also shed light to the changing customs of dressing oneself in changing environment. From the notes in the dowry it is clear that the majority of the garments are of Eastern European origin, whereas the entries in the inventories suggest noticeable changes to the more sober Northern style of clothing.

 

Weaving and wovens

Frances Pritchard A Romano-British pile rug excavated in London 

Excavations undertaken in 2013 by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) at Bloomberg Place in the City of London yielded a remarkable quantity of finds, including more than seventy textiles making it the largest number recovered from an urban site in Britain dating to the Roman period. The most significant item is part of a pile-woven wool rug edged with strips of 2.2 broken diamond twill. Analysis indicates that the textile may be identified as a British-made rug for which the province became renowned. The structure and special character of the rug will be described and discussed.

 

Lorena Ariis An experiment with heavy loom weights 

The reason why the loom weights from the Roman settlements in the north of Piedmont are large and heavy,> 15 cm in diameter and > 1200 g in weight.  They cannot be used to weight warp threads in the classic way, because they are too heavy and bulky.  It was thought to experiment with another way of applying the loom weights to a weaving loom.


The experiment exact replicas of the refractory ceramic loom weights were made, with weight, size and shape, similar to the originals. A weaving loom was built that could be used with large loom weights, and a tabby was woven. Making the loom weights by modeling a refractory ceramic mixture and air drying. Construction of the weaving loom, based on correlations and comparisons with the warp-weighted loom and the double-beam loom, both weaving looms used in Roman times.


A vertical weaving loom with poles inserted in quadrangular bases, with an upper beam and a lower beam that are not fixed but just supported by pin.  The lower one, is weighed down by two weights that are suspended by a rope.  The lower beam can be positioned over a support pin during the warping phase.  During the weaving phase the beam is positioned under the support and the loom weights are positioned laterally.  The entire warping is tensioned simultaneously, ready to weaving.

 

Dolores Kearney Weaving Stories: A multidisciplinary approach to Early Medieval Irish Textiles  

Traditionally, textiles as objects are gendered female and associated with female subjects.  The objects are invisible in the archaeological record by their organic nature, and the historic record renders the associative subjects invisible too.  In consideration of this statement, this poster is adopting a multidisciplinary approach to the early medieval textiles of Ireland emphasising the potential of a feminist viewpoint.

 

Several early medieval Irish settlements sites will provide the archaeological evidence and selected historical textual sources will explore it’s canon for evidence of textile objects connected to female subjects. The use of experimental archaeology will seek to offer a sensory appreciation of the skills and character of textile production in early medieval Ireland.

 

Viewing the evidence from this multidisciplinary framework through feminist lens can act to centralise the female subject offering increased visibility to her performance and practice of textile production. It serves to highlight the role of textiles as central to life. Without textiles, humanity cannot survive in order to strive.

Textiles from shipwrecks and cloth reproductions

 

Margarita Gleba & Angela Middleton Textiles and cordage from the 17th century English shipwreck of the London 

The London was an English Second Rate ship of the line built in 1656. The London served in both the Cromwellian and Restoration navies and formed part of the fleet that brought the future king Charles II back from exile in the Netherlands. The London sank in the Thames estuary in 1665 whilst preparing for the second Anglo-Dutch war. The site was re-discovered in 2005 and was designated in 2008 under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. A program of archaeological excavation, geophysical survey, and finds assessments has been undertaken on the site of the London in 2014-2015. Among the hundreds of finds are textile fragments, numerous elements of rigging, and other fibrous materials, which constitute an important collection of closely dated artefacts from a context with well documented history. The paper presents the results of the conservation program and systematic structural and fibre analysis carried out on this material. The finds are contextualised within the broader 17th century developments in textile consumption.

 

Anna Silwerulv, Cecilia Aneer & Fred Hocker Textile and leather finds from the Swedish warship Vasa. A research project on common people’s clothing from the early seventeenth century 

During the excavation of the Swedish warship Vasa, which sank in Stockholm harbour in 1628, almost 12 000 fragments of textiles and leather were recovered. Since the navy did not yet provide uniforms for their crews of conscripted farm boys, fishermen and sailors, these finds come from the everyday clothing they brought on board. If systematically assessed, the finds may widen our understanding of the dress of the lower classes from the coastal districts of Sweden and Finland.

 

In 2018 a project started centering on the finds of dress-related items from Vasa. Its aim is to document, analyze, contextualize, interpret and publish the finds. An important objective is to study these within the wider archeological and historical setting constituted by their closed find context, the ship and its community and the Scandinavian society at the time, both using the greater find complex on board and contemporary archival sources. An important part of the initial work is the detailed documentation and ordering of the fragments separated during the excavation process that enables the reconstruction of garments and an understanding of the fabrics they are made of. This paper will discuss the goals and methods of the project and provide examples of research in progress.

 

Jenni Sahramaa Use It to Understand It – Ancient Dress in Re-enactment

To better understand (pre)historical clothing, we should not only study the finds and learn the techniques they were made with, but also wear the clothes in situations similar to the life of people who originally used them. Wearing historical clothes in living history events throughout the year calls for pieces of clothing we do not have archaeological evidence of, like underwear and winter clothing.
 

I will focus on ancient Finnish clothing from the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval periods.  It is important to feel the reconstruction, not only to see it, and learn about the wear and tear the garment is subjected to in everyday life. In my poster, I will demonstrate how wearing costumes based on archaeological textiles by re-enactors and in living history contexts can help textile researchers to better understand the archaeological textile remains. I will also explore the fine line between an evidence-based educated guess and pure fantasy.

 

Jaana Riikonen et al. Ravattula Dress project 

The Ravattula dress is a reconstruction based to the archaeological research of the Ravattula Ristimäki grave number 41/2016. Ravattula Ristimäki is the oldest known place of a church in Finland. This project was part of my degree of the Specialist Qualification in Handicrafts. The dress was created by collaboration between researchers and craftsmen, all experts in their own field. The project group started the dress-project at the end of 2018.

Reproduction of decorative textiles

Tereza Štolcová, Juraj Zajonc & Ina Vanden Berghe Picking up the threads: the reconstruction of the 1,600-year old tapestry from Poprad-Matejovce based on a new evidence 

The unique grave from Poprad-Matejovce, excavated in 2006 and dated to the late 4th century AD, is already well known to the NESAT audience. Preliminary results from the laboratory research of the in situ blocks with organic material lifted from this grave were first presented in Esslingen in 2011. The recovered textiles were then shown on a poster in Hallstatt, in 2014, and at the Liberec conference in 2017, a talk was given about the multicoloured tapestry. The international and multidisciplinary project researching the Poprad grave for 14 years now has been the source for many wonderful and new discoveries. Finally, the project is in its last stage, preparing the results in a manuscript and in a permanent exhibition. The aim of the presentation is to pick up the threads of the previous work and show the slit tapestry in a completely new light, based on recent findings. This will be demonstrated by presenting the new methodology of reconstruction of the tapestry fragments via technological features as well as via new colour and dye analyses. The focus is to answer essential questions to create a greater picture, namely: how the tapestry was produced, what its pattern tells us, and the purpose for which it was used. A tentative reconstruction of the design of this fabric will be shown for the first time.

Marie Wallenberg Oseberg 18C, geometric patterned fragments. How have they been woven? Are there any close parallels to be found? 

The patterned textiles from the Oseberg grave have fascinated us for over 100 years and have been studied and described by many researchers. One of the first was Hans Dedekam who started in 1916, and one of the latest is Marianne Vedeler, professor at Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. 

 

The patterned textiles depicting figurative scenes are well known and described. Less well known are the fragments with geometric patterns, 18C. They are often only briefly described, e.g. by Bjørn Hougen as being essentially woven in the same way as the figurative textiles.

 

The 18C fragments were analysed, and samples were woven to provide an understanding of how they were made. The questions asked focussed on the technique. When the technique was understood it was possible to go further and see if close parallels could be found. This paper will present the results of the analysis and weaving experiments, shedding new light on how 18C from the Oseberg grave was made, and describe which parallels could be found.

 

Krista Vajanto, Mervi Pasanen & Elina Sojonen Recreation of a Finnish Medieval wool intarsia by experimental archaeology

The largest Finnish medieval textile is a wool intarsia, possibly made in the 15th century to be used as an antepedium. The textile was discovered in an archaeological survey in the late 19th century in Masku church in SW Finland. Originally larger, it now measures 1.5 x 3 metres. It consists of eight panels depicting animals encircled with religious texts; all embellished with silver-gilt leather.

In 2016, new light was shed on the Masku textile in a co-operation project with the National Museum and a group of textile enthusiasts. In this project, the sewing techniques were analysed visually, dye stuffs by UHPLC and materials by SEM and SEM-EDX. All the analysis results were applied when making a 1:1 size replica as a method of experimental archaeology.

The detailed material analysis revealed that wool of the broadcloth was of fine quality. Silver plated leather was stitched with two different silk threads. Small pieces of cotton were used in the details. Many non-local materials were used; the wool was possibly of Central European origin, while the silk and cotton were far trade products, perhaps from Asia.

 

Jennifer K. Matthews, Robert Bachman, Gregory T. Clark & Christopher M. McDonough Uncovering the story of a reproduction medieval cycle tapestry through interdisciplinary studies 

The famous 15th century tapestry series, The Trojan War, was an eleven panel hanging series, designed by the Coëtivy Master c. 1465.  It is one of the only medieval tapestries for which the original design documents still also exist.  Our institution, the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, US, houses a four-panel reproduction that includes simplified printed/painted versions of both the three original panels housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum and one additional panel of a scene that is thought to be part of the original cycle.  The goals of our explorations of these reproductions are to determine who produced them, when they were produced, where they were reproduced, how they were produced, and why.  This ongoing study utilizes a complete interdisciplinary approach ranging from art historical archive research, textile examination, and technical analysis of the materials used.  Early findings indicate the presence of chromium in the paints/dyes and microscopic fiber analysis indicates the warp fibers are cotton and the weft fibers are jute.  Investigations into the origin and maker of our ‘printed’ copy have yielded no results as of the time of submission of this abstract. 

 

Alexandra Makin The early medieval St Cuthbert maniple: a recreation project

The Cuthbert maniple, with its matching stole, is an important textile dating to c. 909-916AD. It is the earliest surviving maniple from Anglo-Saxon England and the earliest to depict figures. It is finely embroidered in gold and silk threads, with approximately 128 gold threads per inch. The results of the last detailed analyse of both the stole and maniple were published in The relics of Cuthbert (1956). They have never been re-analysed due to their fragile state.


Between 2018-2010 I recreated part of the maniple, funded by a Janet Arnold grant. The project aimed to learn more about early medieval embroidery production processes, with particular focus on the unique qualities and working methods observed on the maniple for example, the unusual form of couched gold-work as observed on the reverse, the order in which the design was embroidered, and the time it took. However, it actually became a collaborative project with the correct materials proving difficult to obtain: trialing threads for weaving; testing silk embroidery threads for thickness, twist, ply, and dyeing them with natural dyes. This paper will give an overview of the project and its results.

 

Caps, laces and looped textiles

 

Nina A. Pavlova Headdresses of 15th century Moscow. Archaeological and historical evidence​

The paper introduces new archaeological findings from the territory of the Moscow Kremlin. The paper focuses on the study of three headdresses of 15th century. Two of them which are men's hats, one silk and one felted, were excavated in 2007.  The third is a woman's silk cap from the burial ground of Maria Borisovna, first wife of the Tsar Ivan 3rd.

 

Noble men's and women’s hats and caps can be found across Late medieval Rus' in written and visual sources. However, the studied headdresses are rare examples of a 15th century hats and caps found in the territory of Russia. Thus these headdresses offer a unique insight into the materials, cut, construction and size of a period's caps and hats. The studied written sources give the opportunity to specify the terms used in the written sources.

 

Sanna Lipkin & Kati Sarajärvi Bobbin laces from Ostrobothnian church burials (late 17th century – early 19th century) 

Various bobbin laces made from silk and plant fibers have been recorded both in archeological funerary materials and inside coffins located under the northern Ostrobothnian churches. These laces were used to decorate caps, necklines, and pillows particularly in children’s burials. The poster will present the context, purpose and stitching techniques of the laces that date from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.

Jane Malcolm-Davies Speed dating or slow dating: interdisciplinary analysis of knitted and other non-woven textiles 

Radiocarbon dating with Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) has been helpful in the study of a range of prehistoric, ancient and early medieval woven textiles. There is less evidence of AMS’s successful application to later historical non-woven textiles, although pioneering work by Nockert and Possnert (2002) provided some relevant results, including dates for one non-woven item (a nåhlbound mitten). Radiocarbon analysis of roman and coptic material (including sprang caps) found it to be earlier in date than that identified by art historical methods. Some woven textiles have been satisfactorily located in the medieval era (for example, the habits of St Francis in Italy) while others have continued to court controversy (most notably the fabric in Queen Margaret's golden gown in Sweden). This paper addresses the need to benchmark AMS analysis of early modern non-woven material. It reports a recent pilot study exploring the influence of sample sizes, archaeological and historical contexts, and storage condition variables on the results of radiocarbon dating knitted fabric. The results illustrate the need for open-minded interpretation through meaningful communication across the sciences and arts, and explores the challenges and benefits of what is variously termed crossdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, intradisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration.

 

Anne Marie Decker But it looks like... methods for differentiating non-woven looped structures​

The correct identification of the structure of a specimen of archaeologically recovered fabric and the technique(s) used to produce it, are fundamental to the understanding of its historical context and significance. However, the surface textures of looped fabric cannot always be associated unambiguously with specific techniques and there can be several ways to produce a given primary structure. Instantiations of this have been dealt with cursorily in the prior literature but illustrations of distinctive secondary structural attributes and how to recognize them are sparse.

This paper attempts to clarify two such points. One compares the surface structure of fabric produced by cross-knit nalbinding with that produced by cross-stitch knitting, both of which are represented in the extant corpus. The other compares the definitive structure of slip stitch crochet as produced by its eponymous tool and technique, with the same structure speculatively produced as nalbinding.

 

The diagnostic details include the direction of work as seen in the fabric structure, which can differ between candidate techniques. The same applies to increases and decreases, initial and final rows, pickups, joins, transitions between stitch variants, and outright errors. The suggested methodology includes the examination of both actual archaeologically recovered fabric and its diagrammatic representation.

 

Thursday 26.8.

Large collections, new perspectives

 

Petra Linscheid The textile archive of H.-J. Hundt​

During the years 1954-1990, Hans-Jürgen Hundt, then director of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz (RGZM), recorded a total of 2700 textile finds. That time, he was one of the few experts in textile archaeology, and textile finds were sent to him from all over Germany and Europe. After conserving and analysing the finds, Hundt returned them to their respective owner. He collected his analysis sheets in his “textile archive”, which today is in possession of the RGZM. This archive contains about 2700 textile analyses from 368 find spots, ranging from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, with a high proportion of Early Middle Age and Iron Age textile finds, accompagnied by fotos, drawings and replica. Inspite of his numerous publications, most of Hundts analyses were never published.

 

In a current project of the University of Bonn, Dep. of Christian Archaeology in cooperation with the RGZM, Hundts archive is entered into a database, which will serve for further evaluation of this immense data pool. 

 

Ronja Lau Hallstatt Period Textiles from Slovenian Burials

The Natural History Museum Vienna holds a large body of iron Age textile finds, not only deriving from the site Hallstatt, but also from numerous Hallstatt and La Tène period graves. Among them, the slovenian finds, dating to the Hallstatt Period 800-400 BC, are of specific interest: The inhumation and cremation burials do not only contain metal artefacts with attached textile remains, but also textile tools and sometimes artefacts with pictorial decoration belonging to the Situla Art style. In this research project, the cemeteries of Magdalenska Gora, Brezje pri Trebelnem and Podzemlj are in focus of the studies.

 

Textile finds and tools stored at the Natural History Museum Vienna are investigated using modern standard methods, taking microstratigraphy and placement patterns of the objects in the graves into consideration. Dealing with the challenging documentation/preservation/conservation status of excavations carried out in the 19th century, there are more or less valid interpretations possible. Together with pictorial sources from Situla art deriving from those sites there are a lot of research questions to be asked:

 

What was the functions of the textiles in the graves?

How can textiles found in the graves be correlated with garments depicted on Situla Art?

What quality did the textiles have?

Which technological skills did they have to produce the textiles?

 

Ingrid Scheerer Erfassung der Textilgeräte in den Archiven des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien in der Datenbank THANADOS

Die Textilproduktion aus pflanzlichen und tierischen Endlosfäden ist seit den frühesten bäuerlichen Kulturen ein wichtiger Bereich innerhalb der großen Anzahl der von Menschen hergestellten Objekte. Sie ist aber auf Grund der Vergänglichkeit des organischen Materials im Vergleich zu Gegenständen aus gebranntem Ton, Stein (und später) Metall im Fundgut unterrepräsentiert.

Reste von gewebten Stoffen – der direkte Output der Textilproduktion – werden äußerst selten gefunden; eher finden sich indirekte Zeugen für die Tatsache, dass Gewebe hergestellt wurden wie Spinnwirtel und Webgewichte aus gebranntem Ton. Weitere Geräte, die dem textilen Bereich zugeordnet werden können sind Nähnadeln, Nadelbüchsen und Kämme aus Knochen und Horn. Webschwerter, Spulen, Karden und durchlochte Plättchen sind selten.

Webgewichte sind auf den ersten Blick ziemlich gleichförmig ­– grob lassen sich durchlochte Scheiben und durchlochte Kegel- bzw. Pyramidenstümpfe unterscheiden – im  Detail aber sind feinere Unterschiede zu entdecken.

Besonders die Gestaltung des Loches bedarf der wissenschaftlichen Aufmerksamkeit, weil sie möglicherweise Aussagen über Details der Webtechnik bzw. den hölzernen Aufbau des Webgerätes zulässt.

 

Die Erfassung der oben genannten Objekte ist seit langem ein wissenschaftliches Desiderat. Denn während z. B. Nadeln und Spinnwirteln größere Aufmerksamkeit zuteil wird, finden sich die Webgewichte in Publikationen meist unter „sonstige Funde“. Diese Randstellung bewirkt auch eine Vernachlässigung in der Erforschung ihrer Funktion, ihrer räumlichen Verteilung und ihrer zeitlichen Einordnung. Die geplante Dokumentation soll dem abhelfen und durch die Erfassung in einer Datenbank für künftige Forschung Daten zur Verfügung stellen.

 

Erster Arbeitsschritt ist eine Erfassung der Maße der genannten Objekte im Tiefspeicher. Zweiter Arbeitsschritt ist das Eintragen der Daten in die Datenbank Thanados. In der Folge ist eine statistische Auswertung der Daten nach frei zu wählenden Kriterien, wie z. B. Durchmesser, Gewicht, Form etc. angedacht. Aus den Funden selbst, aus der kleinräumigen Fundverteilung innerhalb von Siedlungen und der Kartierung lassen sich beim Studium der Daten neue Erkenntnisse gewinnen.

Clothing of the priests and monks

Veronika Pilna Preserved textiles from the cesspit in Plasy Monastery

In 2016 an old cesspit was found in the convent of Plasy Monastery. The old cesspit was being used between 1700 and 1828-1854. During the excavation a great number of objects from organic materials were unearthed. Among those objects multitudes of textile fragments and a complete pair of shoes had been preserved. These fragments represent remains of clothing production which had been worn by the monks in their everyday life during the Baroque period. Some of the preserved textiles were found with rests of sewing technics. In some cases, the finds included fragments of luxury silk fabric used for liturgical garments. This paper informs about the archaeological research in the convent of Plasy and the collection of preserved textile fragments.

 

Milena Bravermanová, Helena Březinová & Jana Bureš Víchová Textiles from the Tomb of St. Wenceslaus

The collections of Prague Castle contain a valuable assemblage of textiles from the tomb of St. Wenceslaus (†935). The remains of the prince were brought from Stará Boleslav to Prague Castle several years after his death and deposited in the south apse of the St. Vitus Rotunda. The grave was still in the same place centuries later, and in the Middle Ages an above-ground tomb and altar were built and subsequently modified. The prince’s remains and grave inventory, mainly textiles, were exhumed in 1911, both from the altar and from the lead chest below the level of the tomb.  A total of 18 fabrics were restored in 2002–2003 and a textile-technological study was conducted; the specimens were evaluated in 2018 and 2019.

 

The fabrics come from a broad period of time, i.e. from the 11th–12th century up to the 15th century. The greatest number date to the 13th–14th century. The areas where they were manufactured are located in all of the silk production centres of the period – in northern China, central Asia, the Near East, Egypt, Sicily, Spain and Italy.

 

With the exception of the earliest fabric, which was woven using the weft-faced compound twill (samite) technique, the others are lampas weaves. Unpatterned textiles are in tabby or twill weaves. The fabrics from the tomb of St. Wenceslaus are secondary relics, i.e. artefacts that came into contact with the relics of the saint.

 

Rebeka Nagy & Réka Semsey The Robe of Saint Emeric Data related to the Prince’s cult in Pannonhalma after examining a relic

In the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma in Hungary there is a little, green textile fragment, associated with a latin text: “Small fragments from the tunic of Saint Emeric, what I had gotten in the Saint Mountain of Pannonia, in 1768, on the patronal of Saint Matthew, monk of the Augustinian Order; Márton Roznák.”

 

The size of the fragment is 8×8 cm. It hasn’t got a woven edge or pattern, and nothing refers to the original function. We could use the methodology of archeological textile examination to answer the most important question: is it possible, that this fragment was the part of St Emeric’s cape?

 

We have had the possibility to make technical analysis. The microscopical picture, the used material and the protolampas binding-system all suggested the middle-aged origin. After the thorough technical analysis, we got the special possibility to examine with the C14 isotope. Although the one analysed sample didn’t prove the origin of the fragment, but showed the importance of research methodology.

At this point the cooperated examination is the only solution. This co-work between the foreign studies had erase the borders of the disciplines. The only solution, to encourage a positive result about the origin of fragments.

 

Clothing and textile items from working contexts

 

Judit Pásztókai-Szeőke Dishing the dirt on the Roman textile and cloth refurbishing workshops in Pannonia

The archaeological excavations of a workshop in the suburb of Roman Savaria (H) yielded an abundant corpus of textile tools and inscribed commercial lead tags. Tools in general are a very useful source for the textile technologies applied locally by the workers. The tags were used as labels for valuable garments entrusted by clients to the care of this workshop for refurbishing (e.g. mending, cleaning, redying) them.

The archaeological finds both from this workshop and from another similar one from the Roman colony of Siscia (Hr) not just allow us to study the local wardrobes, and help to trace the cultural biography of different garments, but also the local practice for treating clothes in the local Pannonian culture.

Based on the recent research on these two workshops, the proposed paper would argue for the functionality of some textile colours beside just being socially symbolic and also emphasize the interdependence and vital importance of corporeal and sartorial hygiene in densely populated regions, such as urban areas or military camps and the tragic consequences of the absence of hygienic practices in the past.

 

Katrin Kania & Beatrix Nutz Industrial use of tablet-woven bands

The excavation of the miner´s house at the copper mining site “Im Blindis” (East Tyrol, Austria), in operation from 1531 (first written source) until 1715, at an altitude of 2300 m a.s.l., unearthed numerous textile fragments. Among those were two narrow tablet woven laces and a broad tablet woven band with pile on one side. The narrow laces both have knots indicating that they were used to tie something, maybe hauling bags, as one of them was found on the mining waste tip. The band might have served as a carrying strap with the pile as padding.

 

Most published tablet-woven bands are made from precious materials, often with complex patterning or brocading. The technique lends itself also to making simple and very sturdy bands that can still be decorative as well. The Blindis finds are among the rare examples of these more mundane tablet-woven items, which were probably much more common than the number of archaeological finds suggests.

 

While they do not boast precious materials or complex patterns, the bands from Blindis are also not just straightforward plain tablet-weaving. The paper takes a closer look at these special techniques used to make the bands.

 

Beatrix Nutz Fact and Fiction – Late 15th to 16th Century Extant Miner´s Garments vs. Pictorial Sources

Our knowledge of miner´s apparel of the 15th to 16th century heavily depends on various pictorial sources such as the title page of the Kutná Hora’s Gradual c. 1490, the backside of the Annaberg Mountain Altar 1522 and the miner´s book of Schwaz and Agricola´s “De re metallica”, both published  1556. Now textile finds, dating from the late 15th to the 16th century, from high alpine mining areas in Austria offer the rare opportunity to compare extant garments to the aforementioned pictorial sources. The fragments, preserved thanks to permafrost at altitudes above 2700 m a.s.l., represent pieces of several woollen hose, fragments of doublets and linen and woollen shirts. Leather shoes, knitted and felted hats and caps as well as protective gear (felted knee pads) complete the miner´s outfit. Comparing these finds to contemporary images shows that some artists depicted the clothing of the miners more or less correctly, while others added or omitted parts of the apparel. And naturally none of the images give an account of the small details of the garments such as the cut or seams, hems and repairs. This paper will compare the finds to the images and discuss the reliability of pictorial sources.

 

Sandra Y. Comis Excavated Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Whalers’ Clothing from Spitsbergen

A series of archaeological excavations carried out by the Artic Centre of the University of Groningen between 1979-1981 uncovered the remains of a Dutch whaling station on the island of Spitsbergen. Hundreds of textile fragments were found in and around the houses and the blubber ovens, that were exploited from 1614 to around 1600. Amongst the finds were fragments of felt hats, jackets, breeches, stockings and mittens.

 

In 1980, excavations were also conducted on the island Zeeuwse Uitkijk. Here the graves of 50 whalers were investigated. The graves contained a total of 33 knitted caps, one fur-brimmed leather cap, eight jackets and four pairs of breeches, either complete or in fragments, as well as several stockings. On the basis of the clothing styles some of the graves can be dated to the period between 1650 to around 1750. This forms the largest collection of workmen’s clothing from this period in Europe.

 

Amongst the finds there is nothing that can be regarded as typical whaler’s clothing. To protect themselves against the cold men simply wore several garments on top of one another. The excavated garments are all of wool, as neither linen nor cotton is preserved under these conditions. The cut of the garments indicates that the everyday clothing worn on Spitsbergen followed contemporary fashion, albeit in a simpler and less costly form.

Liisa Seppänen & Päivi Repo From trash to rags and men’s fashion

In 2013, large archaeological excavations were carried out in Lahti, Finland. The purpose of the excavations was to reveal information about the village of Lahti which pre-dated the foundation of the town in the same area. The excavations revealed plenty of material from the 16th century onwards and especially from the last few decades prior to the destruction of the village in a big fire in 1877.

 

One of the most interesting findings consisted of textiles. Bits were found in the filling layer of a street that was made between 1878 and 1880 when the town was founded on the remains of the ruined village. According to the scope of the excavations and commission, the layers and constructions from the urban phase should not have been included in the archaeological research. However, the decision of investigating the layer proved to be fruitful – the pieces of trash turned out to be rags used in metal working and finally they became the evidence of men’s fashion in the village of Lahti from the 1860s and 1870s.

 

With this example, we discuss the importance of understanding the context and why not to judge material by its context. Furthermore, we discuss the differences between textiles found in the excavations and the ones from the same period preserved in museum collections.

 

Understanding fibres and taphonomy

 

Caroline Solazzo, Cristina Scibè, Bayarsaikhan Jamsranjav & Kira Eng-Wilmot Proteomics characterization of organic metal threads in 11th–15th century textiles

Between the 11th and the 15th centuries, gilt and silvered organic strips (made with animal skin, animal gut or paper) were among the metal threads most commonly used in textiles due to their flexibility and reduced price. They were made and/or used from Europe to the Middle East, to Central and East Asia. The organic metal threads have a layered and heterogeneous structure: when applied on skin tissues (leather, parchment, vellum) or paper, the metal layer (powder or leaf) was bound with an adhesive medium (animal/fish glue, egg or bole), before cutting the substrate into narrow strips.

 

All previous attempts to classify textiles and assign them to different workshops by the study of metal threads were based on the morphological characteristics of metal threads, and the metal composition of coatings. Proteomics analysis has been employed here both for the species identification of the animal substrate and for the characterization of the protein adhesive, if present.  Proteomics analysis adds another dimension to the research of the provenance of the threads and/or textiles. Current results on the proteomics analysis of organic metal threads from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (European threads), and a corpus of metal threads from looted graves in the Darkhad Valley, Northern Mongolia (East and Central Asia threads) will be presented and compared. 

 

Caroline Solazzo, Elena Phipps, Maria Fusco & Petra Czerwinske Identification of Viscacha hair in Precolumbian Peruvian Textiles with Proteomics 

Precolumbian Peruvian textiles are made of a variety of fibers from plants and animals. Cotton and camelid hairs (from the llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco) are the most known.  Colonial sources from the sixteenth century describe some special textiles used by the Inca King as being made from additional extremely fine fibers from chinchilla and bats.  While the use of bat hair has not been identified to date, the presence of chinchilla—from various species of Andean viscacha—is more likely.

 

Microscopic identification of viscacha hairs can be difficult, due in part to its close relation to rabbit hair in the visual aspect of outer scales and segmented formation of the central lumen.  This collaborative project (involving curators, scientist and conservators) applies new research tools with the use of proteomics to precisely identify the fibers and their sources. Several reference samples of known fibers were collected from animal specimens in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History in NY and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to establish reference data for comparative analysis of several unknown samples selected for their unusual physical probability as potential viscacha fibers from Precolumbian textiles.

 

Karina Grömer, S. V. Horne & Margarita Gleba Textiles burning. Understanding charred textiles from cremation graves and experimental charring

Traditionally, textile remains found in cremation graves are interpreted as subsequent wrapping, even if they are associated with burnt and deformed metal objects. Although this may be the case in most cases, we want to postulate another possibility based on the results of experimental charring of textiles. Cremation experiments were carried out in an interdisciplinary cooperation between anthropologists, forensic scientists and archaeologists 2012, 2018 and 2019 in Asparn an der Zaya, Austria. A late Bronze Age grave from Inzersdorf in Austria served as role model, with a pig as substitte for a human body – fully dressed with a linen garment, woollen cloak, belted and covered with a linen shroud.

 

The experiments clearly demonstrated that textiles can survive in a charred state in a pyre, particularly if they fall down in an early state of burning. Some of them were still in a stable state of preservation when the bones and burnt grave goods were collected after the cremation, and could find their way even into a burial urn, together with cremated human remains and other objects.

 

A detailed documentation of the textiles before and after experimental cremation, as well as the conditions of burning, permitted us to investigate the changes that the textiles underwent during the process. The textiles were analysed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The results were compared with the data obtained from detailed textile charring tests carried out under controlled laboratory conditions at the University of Cambridge in 2018 as part of a Masters thesis, which investigated the shrinkage of fibres, threads and cloth in flax and wool textiles with respect to differences in temperature and time of exposure. The paper will discuss the results of comparing both sets of experimental data and the important implications they carry for our understanding of charred textiles from archaeological contexts.

 

Jenni Suomela My experiments with cross-sectioning textile fibres

In this purely technical presentation, I will share the knowledge and experience I have gained from the numerous attempts to do cross cuttings in most efficient manner.  Cross-sectioning is inevitable procedure in analysing morphological characteristics of the textile fibres. The analysis of cross-sectional form of the fibre can be used in identifying fibres based on varying shapes. Presence of pigment cells can be studied through them. The diameter of the fibres can be measured reliably from the non-uniform fibre types. These are just some examples to show possible applications for fibre cross-cuttings.

Cross-sectioning can be done in numerous ways. Some are more time or equipment consuming. Some are more photogenetic for publications.  My mission has been to find a procedure to do quality cross cuttings, fast and practically. I have done experiments with razor blades and microtomes, as well as paper glues and epoxies. Small archaeological fibre samples need special methods compared to reference fibres which are abundantly available. In this summation, I am going share my stumbling and success for others to save time and effort when encountering similar challenges.

 

Isabella Żołędziowska Before the wool reaches the spindle – techniques of initial processing of wool and their effects on the textile ​

Fibre analysis was initially developed for wool from modern sheep breeds. For most of pre-modern times there was no deliberate selection for wool uniformity since sheep were multi-purpose animals. The question arises in how far the fibre diameters measured in archaeological textiles reflect the composition of the fleece, bearing in mind that spinning wool hardly ever takes place without initial preparation of the material. The most common procedures are selecting, plucking, washing and shearing a sheep and sorting, loosening, separating, combing or carding the wool. Many of these change the composition of the fibres that are finally used in a textile. The paper will show the process from sheep to spun thread, while after each step there will be a fibre analysis conducted. This will help evaluate in how far different ways of processing influence the outcome (as seen in archaeological textiles) and reverse: in how far our tools allow us to make conclusions about pre-modern sheep.

 

Understanding burial textiles

 

Maikki Karisto, Heini Kirjavainen & Jaana Riikonen Fibres & Dyes, Bands & Seams - Preliminary results on Ravattula costume ca. 1200 AD 

Ravattula costume is based on the textile fragments found from a woman's grave in South-western Finland. The textiles represent both old traditions of Iron Age costume (apron, shawl and temple ornaments decorated with bronze spirals) and some new elements from medieval fashions like a dress and cloth socks.

 

A small piece of fine linen tabby and wool cloths woven in 2/2 twill belonged to the costume. A dress was sewn together of several pieces woven in colour patterned twill. A tubular selvedge fitted in a shawl and an apron. A tubular tablet woven band was sewn around the shawl. Temple ornaments were made of diagonal plaited braid.

 

The dye analysis in HPLC-DAD method showed that blue dye in shawl and apron was acquired most probably from woad. A fulled cloth for socks and narrow tablet woven bands used for binding the socks had red colour from madder. A patterned tablet woven band in blue, natural brown and white was worn as a girdle around the waist. Fibre analysis indicated that the pieces of costume were woven from local coarse hairy or hairy medium wools. All the bands were made of finer generalized medium or medium type of wool.

 

Elizabeth E Peacock, Stina Tegnhed & Emma Maltin Two Swedish Late Modern Period Foetal Burial Shrouds

The discovery in 2015 of a concealed coffined foetal burial under the floorboards of Gällared Parish Church (1831) in Southwest Sweden initiated not only the systematic study of the coffin and its contents but also a search for comparative burials. The Gällared find is witness to the now-forgotten, custom in Nordic Europe of burying foetal remains in small boxes and deliberately concealing them in or around churches in the hope that these tiny unbaptized souls could come to the kingdom of heaven. There is scant comparative material; finds of these foetal boxes do not make their way into museum collections. However, in 1992 a small lidded wooden box that had been retrieved from a deep crack in an interior wall of Bringetofta Parish Church (12th century / 1754) also in Southwest Sweden entered the collections of Jönköpings County Museum. Not only did both these small boxes contain the naturally mummified skeletal remains of early term foetuses but both individuals had been wrapped in their own textile shroud. This paper compares the two shrouds in terms of the textiles and how they were fashioned into shrouds, how they contributed to the post-mortem preservation of the foetuses and, finally, the insight they provide into this particular ritual as a strategy for coping with loss, grief and transition.

 

Erika Ruhl Re-made and Re-purposed: Exploring textile performance characteristics in pre-modern Finnish burials 

When is a sock not a sock? There are two types of burial clothing represented in a series of pre-modern northern Finnish burials: (1) items used in life re-purposed as burial clothes (2) re-made items crafted from second-hand materials specifically for burial. Despite ostensibly serving the same purpose, re-purposed items retain features that made them useful or valuable in life, while re-made items are often hastily assembled from less-suitable materials. While some items are consistently re-made, other items can be either, depending on location. Re-made items were knowingly crafted with different characteristics than their re-purposed counterparts, raising questions about the difference between providing for the dead on practical and symbolic levels, and what was deemed necessary in the afterlife.

 

The differences in burial clothing choice highlights the malleability of textile use, re-use and re-making in the past, offering a window into the lifecycle of archaeological textiles. Utilizing design theory as well as material and technological choice to explore the crafts decisions inherent in this process, this paper explores the complicated picture presented in re-purposed and re-made items at the churches at Hailuoto, Haukipudas, Keminmaa and Oulu, and examines the decisions that lead to these items’ entry into the archaeological record.