Tracing Networks

Craft Traditions in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond

Weaving relationships: loomweights and cross-cultural networks in the ancient Mediterranean

Lin Foxhall, Alessandro Quercia

This sub-project investigates loomweights across the Mediterranean and beyond, LBA-3rd c. BCE. A much neglected artefact-type, they provide important information about textile production on the warp-weighted loom, largely a women‟s activity in many Mediterranean societies. They come in a wide range of sizes, weights and clay fabrics, partly related to the particular cloth manufactured.
Loomweights can reveal social links and personal/group (often feminine) identities. Styles change broadly in harmony over a wide area of the Mediterranean, with many local variations. „Types‟ jump both across regions and across cultures (e.g. S. Italy, where indigenous cultures adopt local versions of Greek-style loomweights, but indigenous types also appear in Greek contexts). They may be individualized with stamps, fingerprints, etc., suggesting that they were valued as personal possessions. Stamps and loomweights can be tracked geographically and chronologically (e.g. examples of 4th c. loomweights with 6th c. stamps on them in Metaponto). Some are professionally made; others appear home-made. Many clay fabrics are closely related to those of other ceramics; links with van Dommelen‟s and Whitbread‟s sub-projects offer the opportunity to study cross-craft interaction. Systematic study of their manufacture and use over a range of contexts (kilns, houses, graves, sanctuaries) will illuminate textile production across the Mediterranean world, adding new insights on identities and social relationships, especially networks of women.

Weaving relationships

Loomweight online digital library