Textile Crafts and Cultures (TECC) – University of Copenhagen

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Textile Crafts and Cultures (TECC)


Within the TECC research platform we will investigate the development of northern European textile and skin production in the prehistoric and early medieval period combining various approaches and methods in archaeology, history, conservation and the natural sciences.

A strong focus is placed 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. Old and new analyses and information will form the basis for the discussion of past societies and the cultural history of Scandinavia.

The new methods developed in collaboration with the natural sciences, the new knowledge of Scandinavian Bronze Age and Early Iron Age skin and textile technology and clothing traditions, and the important methodology for the registration and interpretation of textile tools developed at CTR provide the fundament and starting point for this research platform.

Seen from an archaeologist’s perspective, Scandinavia is 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 TECC team and CTR visiting scholars meet regularly to discuss and study different issues and challenges related to the overall theme. We invite scholars to join or consult the group in matters related to the discussion of the environmental, economic and cultural impact of skin and textile production on past societies.