Study group 6. Experimental archaeology

Spokespersons: Eva Andersson and Ida Demant 

Key-words: experimental archaeology, spinning, weaving, textile implements, production, spindle whorls, loom weights, wool, flax, nettles

Experimental archaeology, if undertaken in a serious way and using basic scientific methods, can provide important insights in archaeological research. Scandinavia is at the forefront in this field. The Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research (CTR) in Copenhagen and the “Lejre Experimental Centre” in Denmark are the leading experts in this field.

In this group we have three important approaches:

Theory and methodology: The mission is a further development and systematisation of experimental textile archaeology as a scientific method. One important discussion is how to divide between “experimental” archaeology and “experience” archaeology. Another topic deals with limitations and possibilities of textile experimental archaeology, how it can be included in archaeology and for what purpose. Finally, how can ethnographic studies be useful and included in the DressID research program?

Tools experiments and production: Experimental archaeology with textile tools plays an important role for the understanding of the technological parameters for textile production. By using knowledge of fibres and tools of the period under investigation together with developed scientific methods, our target is also to discuss if, how, and for what purpose specific textile tools can be used. The results from the experiments will form an important basis for the interpretation of the function of different tools and for the evaluation of what textiles may have been produced at different sites and regions. A database for textile implements has been designed at CTR (Andersson et al. 2005) and can be used as a tool when recording archaeological textile tools. New data on time consume in the textile production process shed light on status, prices and salaries.

Previous experiments: Using experimental archaeology as a method has a long tradition going back into the 19th century. The results of textile experimental archaeology have however just started to receive the recognition they deserve within academia and many experiments have unfortunately only been recorded in unpublished reports. We will therefore take the opportunity to publish textile experiments related to the DressID research program

Experimental archaeology is also very visual and during the years several experiments in Lejre  has been documented by filming. Another task will therefore be to edited and make this documentation available for researcher as the public.

Besides these main approaches we welcome other and new ideas that will be useful and interesting for this research field