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The textiles from the prehistoric saltmines at hallstatt

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... Occasionally, fragments of textiles may be preserved in anaerobic conditions that prevent bacteria from deteriorating the material. Peat bogs and waterlogged lake beds have provided excellent conditions for the preservation of ancient textiles from Switzerland (see the finds from Hallstatt [ Grömer 2005]), Denmark (Mannering et al 2010), and Britain (see Must Farm, Knight et al 2019). Otherwise, hints of the form and appearance of ancient textiles may be preserved as impressions on clay (where it was pressed against a pat before firing) or metal (where rust pressed against the fabric before it rotted away) (Barber 1991;Ferrero 2014). ...
... Spindle whorls and looms weights are more robust, being frequently made from fired clay, stone, or reused pottery shards. This allows for better preservation in the archaeological record and the development of several methods of study and analysis that can determine the form of fabric production each tool is best suited to (Andersson 2003;Barber 1992;Mårtensson et al. 2006a andb, 2009;Grömer 2005Grömer , 2006. Spindle whorls sit on a wooden shaft -the spindle -and work as a flywheel to keep the spindle turning for as long as possible as it hangs. ...
... Another method of spinning is support spinning, where the turning spindle is allowed to run resting in a bowl or on the ground (Grömer 2005). This takes most of the weight off of the threads being spun and onto where the spindle touches the bowl/floor, thus producing a thinner and softer thread than would otherwise be possible. ...
Thesis
Textile production was an essential element of society in prehistory, supplying people with clothing, furnishings, and utilitarian items like sails, straps, and sacking. The fragility of textiles means few examples of prehistoric fabrics survive in Britain and northwest Europe outside of some special conditions. Thus tools that produced textiles are the main source of information on textiles created and how these were made. Textile tools also provide evidence that textile fragments cannot: where production occurred and how it was organised. Identifying areas and modes of production provides insight into how settlements and craft were organised; e.g. whether a craft and workers were independent or controlled by social elites. Analysis of tools can indicate levels of skill required for production, quality, and quantity of goods, providing evidence on the economy these tools contributed to. This study focuses on textile craft as an economic activity and its organisation during the Iron Age’s period of social change and development, c.800 BC - AD 43. This period of expansion saw changes in craft production and tools, and development of new forms of settlement across Britain and Europe. This thesis presents a unique study on textile tools from various settlement forms across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Kent in Britain, via analysis of such tools and their regional distribution. Five sites per county were chosen based on the number of textile tools, except Kent where few excavations discovered more than one or two textile tools. Comparing tool materials with local geology indicates the importance of textile production compared to other crafts at each site, indicating the status of textile work and its workers across the south coast. Data collected from the tools demonstrates what textiles were most likely produced at the selected sites, identifying areas with specialist workers and areas of basic household production, and highlighting how these communities organised this craft.
... For the Iron Age, we have many indications that the warp-weighted loom was perhaps the most common implement for creating a large piece of cloth. This type of loom can be traced by the presence of starting borders on the textiles from the Hallstatt salt mines (Grömer 2005), and from loom weights found in settlements and even in graves. These loom weights (which kept the warp threads taut on the loom) were made of less perishable clay, although most of the loom was composed of wood. ...
... Besides the weaves made on a warp-weighted loom, there are various textiles made using band looms (Grömer 2005, plate 7). Among these are rep bands of 1-3 cm in width, which were perhaps made with heddle rods or a rigid heddle. ...
... 12-13, taf. 10;Grömer 2005, fig. 11, pl. ...
... A similar situation surrounds another major body of finds in the Alpine region, this time preserved in the salty environment of the prehistoric salt mines at Hallstatt, dating from the Bronze Age and Iron Age,1400 bc-ad 200 (Grömer 2005: 20-25, Reschreiter 2005). The prehistoric finds from the salt mines come from the debris left in the galleries and shafts by the miners. ...
... The salt preserves all organic materials, so a full range of cloth-type materials are preserved including different species of animal skins and textiles of wool and linen (Reschreiter 2005: 13;Ryder 1993). Again, the most regularly cited and best-known artefacts are the textiles; first studied by Hundt and published in a series of articles in the Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz (Hundt 1959(Hundt , 1960(Hundt , 1967(Hundt , 1987 and later examined by a number of authors (for example, Bender Jørgensen 1992; Grömer 2005). Within this milieu of research, despite being unique finds for this period the animal skins from this site remain less widely published and less well-known (Barth 1992(Barth , 1993Harris 2006). ...
Article
The problem of terminology and relationship is something I first came across when researching cloth and skins in the societies of prehistoric Europe. I wanted to understand the relationship between animal skins, linen and wool textiles, netting and twined cloth, yet I found there was no adequate way of describing these as a group of related materials. I was faced with quite separate books and journals on “cloth“ or “textiles“ from those on “skins“ or “leather.“ The content of these publications were usually defined by raw materials, technology or style. Such a separation made it difficult to understand the relationship between these materials at any given time or place. From this problem, I recognized the value of classifying these related materials by their physical similarity and pattern of use. To do this I have used the term cloth-type material to refer to all flexible, thin sheets of material that can be wrapped, folded, and shaped, but excluding materials related through structure, technology or raw material that do not share these qualities. This classification is significant to consider how cloth-type materials have the potential to be used in similar ways, yet through cultural values and choices have distinct roles and values.
... Excavation reports of these sites identify a rich variety of cloth constructions including twined cloth, woven textiles, knotted netting, knotless netting and woven basketry; the raw materials used were often tree bast and flax plus unmodified fibres from grasses and rushes (Winiger 1981, 57-64, 148-171;Rast-Eicher 1997, 302-310;Körber-Grohne and Feldtkeller 1998). Other important sources of preserved cloth include the frozen Iceman dating to the late Neolithic/Copper Age (Egg 1992, 35-100) and the mainly wool woven textiles from the Middle to Late Bronze Age galleries of the Hallstatt salt mines, Austria (Grömer 2005). ...
... There is also a wider variation of cloth quality, thread counts and yarn types. Textiles from the first millennium B.C. are known from the salt mine at Hallstatt (Grömer 2005), but there are similar finds in Iron Age graves as well. ...
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Article
Textiles from the Bronze Age and Iron Age have been preserved for more than 3000 years in the salt mine of Hallstatt, Austria. Copper originating from prehistoric mining tools made of bronze has probably altered the colour of many of the textiles. Three woven bands from the Iron Age were chosen for reproductions in order to show how they might originally have looked, and to acquire knowledge of prehistoric dyeing technology. Dyeing techniques documented in historical, ethnographic, and experimental archaeological literature were analysed. Fibre, dye and element analyses of the prehistoric bands formed the basis for the experimental development of dyeing methods using woad (Isatis tinctoria L.), weld (Reseda luteola L.) and scentless chamomile (Tripleurospermum inodorum (L.) Sch. Bip.). The hand spun yarns were woven with rep band and tablet weaving techniques. Each band was successfully reconstructed in two possible colour variants. The light fastness of the dyed woollen yarns ranges between level 3 and 6 and matches everyday requirements today. Element and dye analyses and a post-mordanting experiment with copper acetate explain today's colours of the woven bands. A detailed picture of conceivable dyeing techniques in the Hallstatt Culture is provided, concerning the handling of textile material during dyeing, woad processing and dyeing procedures, mordanting techniques, and the tools and resources required. Dyeing with natural dyes is an ancient cultural technology that is simple in terms of equipment and resources, but sophisticated in terms of the knowledge required. It fully reflects the comprehensive knowledge prehistoric people had of the chemical properties of natural substances, the effect of temperature on (bio)chemical processes, and the ability to control and manage these processes. In central Europe, the beginning of this knowledge dates back to Bronze Age, the 2nd millennium BC, as proven by the textile finds in Hallstatt.
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In der antiken griechischen Welt implizieren insbesondere gemusterte Stoffe zwischenmenschliche Bindungen verschiedenster Art. Außer regional variierenden Sitten, die Toten, ihre Beigaben oder Leichenbrandbehältnisse durch Textilien zu verhüllen, können diverse Schmuckgehänge aus Frauen-und Männerbestattungen als verkleinerte und z.T. stilisierte Darstellungen von Webstühlen gesehen werden. Ausgehend von einem Gehänge aus Frög, das in seinen Bestandteilen mit einem griechischen Vasenbild, das die Entstehung von Stoff am Gewichtswebstuhl zeigt, übereinstimmt, wird augenfällig, dass trianguläre Klapperbleche in diesem Zusammenhang eigentlich Webgewichte meinen. Folglich geben vergleichbare diverse italische Fibelgehänge und bisher ungedeutete Anhänger prominenter Fundstellen symbolisch Zeugnis für ‚das Weben‘. Alt überlieferte, religiöse Zeichen wie Kreisaugen oder Vogelprotomen (Vogelbarke) sind regelhaft ihre Begleiter. Bestimmte eisenzeitliche Metallgürtel mit Klapperblechen sind daher in eine überregionale und zeitübergreifende religiös bestimmte Traditionskette einzugliedern.
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