Event Title

Ancient Textile Production in the Archaeological Record of Karanis, Egypt

Location

King Building 227

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2018 1:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2018 2:20 PM

Abstract

This project examines the evidence of textile production in the archaeological record of Karanis, a Greco-Roman town in Egypt’s Fayum Region, in an attempt to address questions of craft quartering in the Roman world. Elsewhere, such studies have been often been limited to textual evidence (i.e. tax records) or architectural elements (i.e. fullers’ basins). Karanis was excavated in the 1920’s and 30’s by the University of Michigan with unusually thoroughly documentation for the time, allowing this study to examine the spatial distribution of the more transient textile-working tools in a period where production was taking place in both domestic and industrial contexts. While the complex chronology, varying preservation, past looting of the site, and the possibility of refuse contexts complicate an understanding of the site, spatial analysis of the distribution of textile-working tools and textiles as well as of the different compositions of assemblages suggest that, unlike other findings, serious textile production may have been more clustered in Karanis. This study has implications for all forms of ancient craft production and broader social organization in the Roman world.

Keywords:

archaeology, textile production, legacy data, spatial distribution, ancient Egypt, classics

Notes

Session III, Panel 8 - Archaeological | Studies
Moderator: Drew Wilburn, Associate Professor and Chair of Classics, Chair of Archaelogical Studies, Irvin E. Houck Associate Professor in the Humanities

Major

Archaeological Studies; Latin Language and Literature

Advisor(s)

Drew Wilburn, Classics; Archaeological Studies

Project Mentor(s)

Drew Wilburn, Classics; Archaeological Studies

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Apr 27th, 1:00 PM Apr 27th, 2:20 PM

Ancient Textile Production in the Archaeological Record of Karanis, Egypt

King Building 227

This project examines the evidence of textile production in the archaeological record of Karanis, a Greco-Roman town in Egypt’s Fayum Region, in an attempt to address questions of craft quartering in the Roman world. Elsewhere, such studies have been often been limited to textual evidence (i.e. tax records) or architectural elements (i.e. fullers’ basins). Karanis was excavated in the 1920’s and 30’s by the University of Michigan with unusually thoroughly documentation for the time, allowing this study to examine the spatial distribution of the more transient textile-working tools in a period where production was taking place in both domestic and industrial contexts. While the complex chronology, varying preservation, past looting of the site, and the possibility of refuse contexts complicate an understanding of the site, spatial analysis of the distribution of textile-working tools and textiles as well as of the different compositions of assemblages suggest that, unlike other findings, serious textile production may have been more clustered in Karanis. This study has implications for all forms of ancient craft production and broader social organization in the Roman world.