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Ancient textile terminology

An interdisciplinary study on ancient textile terminology sheds light on the economy, society and culture of ancient Near Eastern civilisations. This work contributes to a better understanding of the role of textiles in shaping ancient and modern societies.
Ancient textile terminology
In ancient times, textiles played an important role in the development of economies and societies. Beyond that, they helped to shape a reality through aesthetic and ideological conceptualisation.

ASTEX (Assyrian textiles: A study on the terminology and the material culture of the textiles in the Neo-Assyrian Empire) was an EU-funded project that researched the use of textile terminology in the first millennium BC. Until now, no studies have been devoted to textiles in the New-Assyrian period.

An investigation of the entire terminology of textiles in written documents from archives of the period was a main research goal. This involved an analysis of the vocabulary in a broad linguistic context, including a comparison with Old and Middle Assyrian. Thus, an evaluation of continuity of the lexicon was possible.

The investigation led to a deeper awareness of textile production. Additionally, the importance of using material culture in uncovering textual data about textiles became evident. A traditional lexicological approach was crossed with a new interdisciplinary perspective combining archaeology, history of technology, tool studies and iconography.

Mid-term results were presented at the second international conference on textile terminology, Textile Terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe 1000 BC – AD 1000. This increased the impact in the field of disciplinary research and provided a venue to share ideas on textile terms and techniques. The research was also presented at an outreach seminar that aimed at disseminating results to the public. Non-specialists were thus able to learn about religious representations in Neo-Assyrian political discourse.

Conference articles and book chapters have been published and a manuscript is in progress. Results disseminated via lectures and publications can contribute to continuing the research on the terminology of textiles of the ancient Near East in the first millennium BC. Furthermore, the importance of integrating philological and historical research with material culture studies and ethnography has been exemplified.

Related information


Textile terminology, Neo-Assyrian, archaeology, tool studies, iconography
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