Skip to main content

Article Category

Article available in the folowing languages:

Textile technology and migration history

An EU team examined artefacts related to textile manufacture, to trace cultural movements around the ancient Mediterranean. Textile tools revealed possible migrations into Syria and Cyprus; the team also identified a hitherto-unknown workshop.

Industrial Technologies

The Late Bronze Age (1550 – 1250 BCE) in the eastern Mediterranean was a time of thriving trade and migration. Today, it is archaeologically difficult to trace movements of particular peoples, hence such study utilises distinctive artefacts as cultural markers. The EU-funded ITEM-E-CONTEXT (Identities and Transformation in the Eastern Mediterranean: Evolution and Continuity of Textile Tools in the Late Bronze Age (LBA) and Early Iron Age (EIA); 13th - 10th c. B.C.E) project examined textile tools as cultural markers. The research examined ivory, stone and terracotta spinning objects, and associated changes in spinning technology, as indicators for cultural movement. Researchers first received training, including about recording loom weights. Then they shared expertise with colleagues about linen and associated fibres industries. This sharing resulted in several collaborative publications. Team members also collected data taken from textile samples belonging to various museums, and from unpublished notes concerning excavations in Cyprus. The project supplied weight and other data for ivory and bone shafts, plus weight information regarding terracotta loom weights, and stone and terracotta spindle whorls. Work yielded improved understanding of textile tools and their archaeological context. Researchers also aimed to identify cultural newcomers to Syria and Cyprus during the Early Iron Age period. Using museum specimens, the stage examined spinning technologies new for the era, plus shifts in low and high whorl usage. The study yielded new understanding of the Cypriot textile industry. Examples included identification of previously unknown textile workshops, which manufactured distinctive textiles. The project also reconstructed spinning sets, and demonstrated that the same spindle could have been used to produce threads of various thicknesses. Staff attended and organised several conferences, and participated in various workshops. The project produced new insights about the ancient Mediterranean textile economy. Such work contributes to uncovering the cultural movements and history of the Late Bronze Age.


Late Bronze Age, Mediterranean, ITEM-E-CONTEXT, archaeology, textile tools, cultural markers

Discover other articles in the same domain of application