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Classical Studies
Classical Studies 2700A/B
Les Murison

-RJ Forbes has 260 pages dedicated to ancient textiles (Dutch guy who writes in English) -Poets tell us a lot of information about spinning and weaving when it comes to textiles (like Rapunzel). Greek and especially Roman poets wrote a lot of information on the processes -fibres – there are four fibres – two are animal (wool and silk) and two are vegetable (flax and cotton). There were others but there were relatively insignificant WOOL – many varieties of sheep in the ancient world. Sheep domestication goes back to early Neolithic Age (probably happened in the Middle East, in highlands of Baluchistan, Afghanistan and probably Iran -Egyptians had large amounts of sheep in pre-dynastic times and earliest surviving samples of wool are from Pre-dynastic Egypt -Egyptians didn’t care for wool – on religious grounds…sheep are stupid. They didn’t wear wool was because it was super-hot in Egypt. By archaic period (dynastic period), 3000BC, Egyptians switched mainly to linen -ancient Mesopotamia great place for wool production (so many records that prices can be logged for a long time…2200-650BC – 1600 years)…prices didn’t change much during this entire time (no inflation) -how was wool removed? Sheep tend to malt (gets loose), so the wool was plucked/combed out of the sheep (teeth at right angles on comb). Shears came around the Bronze age, in Greece 1100 BC. It was a string that joined the blades -shears also came to be used quickly for other uses in textile trade – for trimming and cutting up cloth -in W and N Europe, wood and textiles were used at the end of the Neolithic period. Gradually increased during Bronze Age -oldest samples of wool and textiles is from Oak coffins in Denmark from 1300-1100BC -Mycenaean Greece – wool was most important textile product. Linear B tablet refer to all kinds of processes involved in wool production. Fulling bleaching and washing wool in mentioned in Linear B tablets. This continued on through classical Greece, and all regions of Greece and Asia Minor – they had sheep rearing and cloth finishing. Same was true in roman times. Villas and farms had a lot of sheep around -sheep – food, clothes and trim grass. Britain, many parks sheep trim grass (until modern lawn mowers come around) -sythe (grim reaper) -there are three different ways to prepare wool for spinning (after washing). Shorter process – wash sheep before shearing (like remove dirt and burrs) -there is some form of combing (flat iron teeth, removed tangles and put fibres parallel) and carding (stiff brush with wire teeth, similar to combing and removes impurities). Then there is bowing (general shape of bow, there is horse hair string. You wack the bow up and down on the wool. Good at removing fibres. Makes the fibres jump -flax produces linen – widely used in antiquity and now. Egypt was centre of linen manufacturing. High end linen comes from Ireland. Early dynastic period focus on linen manufacturing. Linen seeds were used for food (you get linseed oil, and stocks of flax plant are used in actually making linen). -rippling – comb to remove seed cases of end of flax stock, retting – immerse stock in water and keep them under the water (using weight), leave for 5-15 days and there is bacterial decomposition of stocks (Fibres detached from woody core)…retting happens in late august early December. after this dries, the stocks are drawn over edge of stone or beaten with wooden mallet to detach the fibres from the wooden stocks THIS IS BREAKING. SKUTCHING – uses wooden chopper to breaks off various bits. Hackling – great big comb machine that has iron teeth that removes last remnants of wood. -flax cultivation seams to spread from near East to Western and northern Europe possibly during Neolithic times and certainly before end of Bronze Age. And Greece and Etruscans. Italy in north -cotton first cultivated in India during Indus valley civilization (from 2500-1900 BC). Mahenjo Daro. Came late out of India to near east and European area. -Latin world for cotton is carbasus (original Sanskrit world). Our word cotton is Arabic from Qutun th -Spanish word for cotton is Algodon, because for a very long time (700s-to late 15 century), most parts of Spain were under Arabic rule (Arabic/Islamic influence in the area) -cotton has strange genetic characteristics – common/old world cotton has 13 short chromosomes and new world cotton has 13 long chromosomes. These two are very differe.t old world cotton somehow reached the new world (unknown how). You get a 26
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