Staff employed at University of Copenhagen – University of Copenhagen

First Textiles. The Beginnings of Textile Manufacture in Europe and the Mediterranean (External organisation)

Activity: MembershipMembership in research network

Malgorzata Siennicka - Chair

This project concerns the beginnings of textile manufacture, tools and techniques, with a focus on the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in Europe and the Mediterranean. Despite our extensive knowledge about late prehistoric textile production (especially in the Middle and Late Bronze Age) supported by numerous archaeological, textual and iconographic evidence, the very beginnings of thread and fabric manufacture still need to be explored.

Application of varied interdisciplinary methods of systematic analysis of textiles, such as studies on ancient textile remains, basketry, mat and textile imprints in clay, textile tools (e.g. spindle whorls, loom weights, needles, shuttles), experiments with copies of ancient textile implements, or recently developed scientific methods of analysing textiles and recognising the provenience of animal fibres, e.g. through DNA analysis, strontium-, and isotope-tracing will offer important insights into the oldest textile techniques, their beginnings and development throughout prehistory.

One of the main objectives of our research is to review and systematize the recent achievements in the research field of the most ancient textiles and textile techniques and to set the agenda for further research.
In the project, various approaches and data will be combined: studies of actual remains of the ancient textiles, prehistoric textile implements (e.g. spindle whorls, loom weights, needles, combs), iconographic sources, impressions of textiles and mats/baskets in clay and other materials, experimental archaeology and archaeological reconstructions. More specifically, the programme will focus on the following questions:

When were the first threads and fabrics made? What sources are available to study them?
What were the first textile techniques and how did they change and develop during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age?
When were the spindle whorls and loom weights invented and attested, how did they spread through distant regions and cultures and how were they used?
What fibres were preferred during the early prehistoric periods? Which scientific and other analytic methods are available to recognise them?
What can the first textiles or textile implements tell us about the society, household production, work organisation and specialisation, social status, gender?
Can textile implements and techniques tell us more about the cultural changes during the prehistoric times?
Network of international researchers
The purpose of the project is to create a dynamic network of international researchers, Ph.D. students and students who wish to exchange their knowledge and present recent advances in the study of the beginnings of textile manufacture. The project will provide a platform for all members of the academic community who share an interest in archaeological textiles, ancient textile techniques and tools.

External organisation

NameFirst Textiles. The Beginnings of Textile Manufacture in Europe and the Mediterranean

    Research areas

  • Archaeology, Textiles, Prehistory, Experimental archaeology

Related Research outputs (3)

  1. Published
  2. Published

    First Textiles Conference: (announcement)

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  3. Submitted

    First Textiles. The Beginnings of Textile Manufacture in Europe and the Mediterranean

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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ID: 136966867