Textile Crafts and Cultures – University of Copenhagen

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The research programme is a joint national endeavour of CTR and the National Museum of Denmark. The program is headed by Ulla Mannering in collaboration with Eva Andersson Strand and is hosted by the National Museum of Denmark.

Seen from an archaeologist’s perspective, Scandinavia is a treasure box where organic and inorganic manmade remains have had unique conditions for preservation. At the same time, Scandinavia has a strong tradition for excavating, recording and preserving archaeological artefacts and remains. Whether we are concerned with Stone, Bronze, Iron or Viking Age, Scandinavia possesses an enormous wealth of finds that in different ways can enlighten our understanding of the lives of the early inhabitants in this area. While Scandinavia is not an area that is known for being the place where civilisations started, it is an area where scientists can follow long-term developments of the textile crafts and cultures.

It is impossible to understand the inhabiting and development of northern Europe and Scandinavia in particular without incorporating the history of costume. Likewise there can be no doubt that the study of tools and installations from different contexts provides a fuller view of the production at a site or in a region. However, in surveys of Scandinavian cultural historical development, or even more specific works on agricultural history, there is rarely any mention of neither the use of raw materials for making costumes, nor the influence of its production on the Scandinavian prehistoric society. Irrespective of the scale of a community, the production of raw materials for textiles and skins requires long-term planning, knowledge of animal husbandry and cultivation technology, and exploitation and management of available natural resources. Although it cannot be questioned that textile and skin production represent important parts of agriculture and animal husbandry, this knowledge is still lacking in our cultural history.

The common aim of the research programme is to investigate the development of northern European textile and skin production until c. AD 400 by combining various approaches and methods in archaeology, history, conservation and the natural sciences and to focus on the environment and the long-term strategies, from breeding sheep and cultivating textile crops to the international trade and exchange in textiles and their final destination in bogs, settlements and graves. Within this research platform old and new analyses and information will form the basis for the discussion of past societies and cultural history.

The methods and results of the analyses of the textiles and costumes from the Early Iron Age and registration and interpretation of textile tools investigated in CTR’s research 2005-2010 will provide an important comparison to this part of the research program.
Within this research platform old and new analyses and information will form the basis for the discussion of the environmental, economical and cultural development of past societies.