Session: #356

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

The Power of the Invisible. Discussing Social, Political and Environmental Impact of Transformations in Textile Production
The study of textile production during the Bronze Age and Iron Age has suffered from a lack of scholarly attention. There are several reasons for this, including the dearth of physical evidence in the form of substantial examples of ancient textiles, as well as the prevalence of traditional assumptions that regard the tools, such as those used for spinning and weaving, as lacking historical significance. The situation has now changed, and a growing number of studies have demonstrated that Bronze Age and Iron Age textile manufacture in Europe and the Mediterranean has, to a great extent, been a part of large-scale and well-organized production systems, whose outcomes were traded and consumed over vast areas, nourishing long-distance networks and resulting in the flourishing of distinct local economies. It is argued that textile production not only played a relevant economic role, but also that economic and technological transformations related to such productions represented factors that likely contributed to the development of contemporary transformations, and eventually crises.
The participants in this session will be asked to discuss the evidence for economic and technological transformations related to textile production, and to consider the cultural, political and environmental impact it had. Archaeologically, we can study differences over time, assessing the quantity and characteristics of:
1) textile tools
2) sheep bone assemblages suggesting wool production
3) pollen diagrams showing the cultivation/presence of specific fibres
In this session we will discuss such changes in the light of the political, social and environmental transformations that may be inferred.

This session is supported by following projects: THESP ( and PROCON (
textile economy, wool, flax, textile technology, political economy
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Serena Sabatini (Sweden) 1
Francesca Fulminante (United Kingdom) 2
1. University of Gothenburg
2. Bristol University