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Rome Workshop 2015

The Fabric of Life: Approaches to Textile Resources, Economy and Production in Ancient Italy/ Il tessuto della vita: Approcci alle risorse, all'economia ed alla produzione tessile nell'Italia antica

  • Date: 26 February 2015
  • Place: British School at Rome/Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, Rome, Italy
  • Organisers: Margarita Gleba (University of Cambridge, UK) and Romina Laurito (Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale, Rome, Italy/Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

In the past few years the field of archaeological textile research has witnessed a major dynamism as demonstrated by numerous conferences and publications on the topic, as well as establishment of large-scale interdisciplinary collaborative programmes, such as the Centre for Textile Research funded by the Danish National Research Foundation (2005-2015) and the pan-European project Clothing and Identities - New Perspectives on Textiles in the Roman Empire (DressID) funded by the European Union Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (2007-2012). These activities demonstrate not only that the field holds great potential in elucidating many aspects of past cultures, such as economy, technology, trade, fashion and religion, but also that at the moment there is a developing energy, expertise and collaborative will to draw from. The necessary next step is to lead this growing field into answering some of the fundamental questions of archaeology, where evidence for textiles has hitherto been virtually unexplored. Compared to Central and Northern Europe, textile research Italy has been a rather neglected field until recently. The reason most often cited for the absence of studies on ancient textiles in Italy is their extremely poor preservation. Textiles, however, are much more common finds than generally thought and survive in original organic state but also as carbonised and mineralised traces, as well as in the form of imprints. In addition, there are numerous other sources of evidence, such as textile tools, palaebotanic and archaeozoological remains, as well as iconographic and written sources, which permit us to gain valuable information about many and varied aspects of textile production in ancient Italy. The scientific methods have been or are being developed within archaeology (such as ancient DNA studies, isotopic tracing) that can be applied to gain new knowledge about ancient textiles on unprecedented scale. The interdisciplinary workshop will gather specialists in these fields in order to bring together and to discuss the various methods and approaches to textile and fibre studies in ancient Italy. The overall aim of this session is to demonstrate the potential of archaeological textiles and related sources for the investigation of ancient Italian economy, technology and agriculture and to discuss new methods that can be applied to the investigation of ancient textiles.


AM - British School at Rome


9:00-9:10 Christopher Smith (Direttore, BSR) – Welcome

9:10-9:30 Margarita Gleba (University of Cambridge) – Archaeological textiles in Italy: chaîne opératoire, raw materials and analyses

9:30-9:50 Susanna Harris (University College London) – Textile iconography of proto-historic Italy: methods and research potential 

Session 1: Raw Materials

9:50-10:10 Mauro Rottoli (Musei Civici di Como): Lino, canapa e lana; nuovi dati sull'età del Ferro dai pollini ai macroresti ed ai tessuti in Italia centrale e settentrionale

10:10-10:30 Angela Trentacoste (University of Sheffield) – Separating the sheep from the goats: archaeozoological evidence for wool production in pre-Roman central and northern Italy c. 2000-200 BC   

10:30-10:40 Discussion 

10:40-11:00 Coffee break

Session 2: Textiles, texts and iconography

11:00-11:20 Marta Bazzanella (Museo degli Usi e Costumi della Gente Trentina) – Le produzioni tessili preistoriche in Italia settentrionale

11:20-11:40 Annemarie Stauffer (Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences) – Holes,stiches and pleats - A closer look at men’s garments from Verucchio 700 BC

11:40-12:00 Peder Flemestadand Birgit Olsen (University of Copenhagen) - Sabellic Textile Terminology

12.00-12.20 Berit Hildebrandt (University of Copenhagen) – Fabricating marble dress: How to interpret clothing on statues?

12:20-12:40 Discussion

12:40-15:00 Lunch break

PM – Museo Archeologico Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia


15:00-15:10 Alfonsina Russo (Soprintendente dell’Etruria Meridionale) – Saluti istituzionali

15:10-15:30 Romina Laurito (University of Copenhagen / SBAEM) – Filare e tessere tra gli Etruschi. Uno primo sguardo funzionale al loro strumentario. 

Session 3 – Textile production

15:30-15:50 Hedvig Landenius Enegren (University of Copenhagen) – Archaic Sicily – loom weights and identity

15:50-16:10 Francesco Meo (University of Salento) – Produzione tessile nell’Italia meridionale preromana: primi dati, nuove prospettive

16:10-16:30 Maria Stella Busana e Anna Rosa Tricomi (University of Padova) - Archeologia dei tessuti nella Venetia romana

16:30-16:40 Discussione 

16:40-17:00 Coffee break

Session 4 – Experimental and experience archaeology

17:00-17:20 Cristina Lemorini (University of Rome La Sapienza) e Assunta Perilli – La tela invisibile: evidenze archeologiche e sperimentazione

17:20-17:40 Ettore Pizzutti – La tessitura a tavolette e gli strumenti da tessitura della T.102/72 Lippi di Verucchio

17:40-18:00 Jacopo Tabolli (Museo Archeologico Virtuale di Narce) – Dai taccuini del 1890 al Museo MAVNA: l’identità di Narce attraverso le attività di filature e tessitura a La Petrina

18:00-18:10 Discussion 


18:10-18:30 Larissa Bonfante (University of New York) – Bringing the threads together: final considerations

18:30-19:30 Wine reception

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