Textile Production

John P. Wild

in The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199734856
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Textile Production

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology


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This article addresses the processes of textile production. Four basic processes characterize ancient textile production: growing and harvesting raw fibers, converting raw fibers into yarn, weaving or interlacing yarns to make a fabric, and fabric finishing. The harvesting and preparation of animal, vegetable, insect, and miscellaneous fibers are first considered. Weaving acted as the center of gravity in the textile industry. The interlaced and non-woven fabrics are then outlined. Texture, surface appearance, and handle could be greatly enhanced by “finishing.” Advances in the analysis of dyestuff traces in archaeological textiles have shed new light on the dyestuff sources tapped by Greek and Roman dyers. The fact that only an expert can spot the difference between a Greek or Roman textile and its modern equivalent is testimony to the consistently high level of skills deployed by ancient textile operatives.

Keywords: Greek textile; Roman textile; raw fibers; weaving; interlacing; fabric finishing; dyeing

Article.  7571 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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