EGYPTIAN FABRICS: How to redefine textiles from the 1st Millennium AD at the National Museum of Denmark
The aim of EGYPTIAN FABRICS is to deepen interdisciplinary studies of the textiles from Roman, Byzantine and Early Medieval Arab Egypt held at the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen (NMD) in order to publish a comprehensive anthology with a catalogue of the entire collection. The exceptional research potential of 112 fabrics in the NMD collection is due to their technical and material diversity, the variety of object types, and their rich iconography. Furthermore, the history of this collection is an excellent example of how European museums acquired textiles from Egypt.
The EGYPTIAN FABRICS project is a further development a previous project called RECONTEXT Reconstructing the history of Egyptian textiles from the 1st Millennium AD at the National Museum of Denmark, which main objective was to establish the history of the NMD Egyptian textile collection. The results of this last project, shown through 30 selected textiles, are presented in the exhibition entitled Archeaological Puzzles in a Museum / Arkæologiske puslespil på et museum, which is available on the NMD website.
The synergy of specialists from various fields, invited to the EGYPTIAN FABRICS project, will allow the collection and its objects to be presented from different perspectives. The project will fully assess and investigate aspects such as dating, particular techniques as well as function, iconography and social context of these textiles. Several issues have been selected for further in-deep research, and they are important not only for furthering our knowledge of textiles from NMD, but also for the study of Egyptian textiles in other collections. In relation to a group of fabrics made in non-woven techniques, textiles made in complex weaving techniques and rarely attested raw material in Egypt (silk, cotton), proposed investigations include C14 dating, dye analysis, and making replicas and experimenting with them by experts involved to the project. Evaluation of comparisons, iconographic and historical studies concerning entire collection will be performed, with a special focus on depictions inspired by Greek and Roman mythology and on a group of textiles showing foreign inspiration, most-likely Persian (Sassanian). Archival research will continue as well, mainly on Margrethe Hald’s role in the creation of the collection. In the framework of the project other studies will be also developed, e.i. research on methods of textile analysis and documentation carried out in the past.
EGYPTIAN FABRICS will redefine on important technical and sociological issues related to Egyptian textiles. The project provides an important contribution to the history of Danish and European collections and give an input to the methodology of research on Egyptian textiles collected in museums around the world. EGYPTIAN FABRICS will also open new perspectives in cooperation between Scandinavian and European collections holding Egyptian textiles. The catalogue will be the first comprehensive publication of the richest ensemble of Egyptian textiles in Denmark, the first such a publication of a Danish collection and the second in Scandinavia.
|University of Copenhagen
|Hansen, Anne Haslund
|Curator and Senior Researcher
|National Museum of Denmark
|University of Bonn