Identities and Transformation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Evolution and Continuity of Textile Tools in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age 13th - 10th Century B.C.E.

Project by Caroline Sauvage, Marie Curie Fellow 2014-2016

The Late Bronze Age (1550 – 1250 B.C.E.) of the eastern Mediterranean was a period of intense exchange of goods, ideas, and men. Movements of people, from trading trips to massive migrations, are well attested in this area between the 13th and the 10th century B.C.E. However, from an archaeological point of view, identifying people’s identities or defining ethnic extension within territories is not easy and require the use of cultural markers. Such markers are generally sought for within the most utilitarian objects such as cooking pots, most likely to preserve their owner´'s cultural heritage.

Textile tools are amongst the most reliable markers since they are culturally specific: as demonstrated by Barber, the use of a high or low spindle-whorl on a spindle directly relates to groups identities, and therefore to their larger geographic origins, each group being convinced that it's spinning method is the best.
This project will therefore aim to establish a better understanding of the problematic transition period at the end of the Late Bronze Age by studying together key aspects of the development of textile technology (including spindle-whorls, loom-weights, spindles and distaffs) in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in Cyprus and the northern Levant, and by demonstrating the value of using textile tools and technological changes associated with textile production as marker for possible population changes and renewals.