Lecture by Prof. Agata Ulanowska in PAIA

On November 8, 2022, a lecture by Prof. Agata Ulanowska (University of Warsaw), member of The Governance Council of PAIA titled: “IMPRESSED, UNIMPRESSIVE YET INFORMATIVE: New evidence for the technical textiles from imprints on the undersides of clay sealings from Bronze Age Greece” was held at the headquarters of the Polish Archaeological Institute in Athens. After the lecture an extremely lively discussion at the PAIA library took part which was attended, among others, by Dr. Christina Margariti (Head of Applied Research Department, Directorate of Conservation of Ancient and Modern Monuments, Hellenic Ministry of Culture) and Dr. Kalioppe Sarri, (Centre for Textile Research, SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen).

photo: Beata Kukiel-Vraila

See abstract of the lecture below:

Due to the preservation conditions in Greece, extant textiles are rare in archaeological contexts and they represent, therefore, an environmentally limited selection from the range of products that were originally consumed by Bronze Age societies. Their number can be, however, complemented by the evidence of textile imprints, such as the ones from the undersides of clay sealings.

A large number of such imprints, documented on plasticine impressions and silicone casts of the undersides of clay sealings and nodules by the Corpus der minoischen und mykenischen Siegel (CMS) team, and stored in the CMS Archive now in Heidelberg. They have partially been examined by the present author within the ‘Textiles and Seals’ research project and published in an open access ‘Textiles and Seals’ database (https://textileseals.uw.edu.pl/database/). Impressed textiles, although visually unimpressive, comprise an important new source for analysing the properties of technical textiles, i.e., products such as threads, cords, thongs, woven fabrics, mats or wickerwork, used for covering, wrapping, tying and hanging the sealed objects. The choice of raw materials (both of plant and animal origin) and challenges for their identification on the basis of imprints, the specific parameters of products and characteristics of production techniques, as well as specific use-patterns for technical textiles in sealing practices are discussed, taking Early Bronze Age Lerna and Geraki, and a Middle Bronze Age Phaistos as the case studies. The evidence under discussion enables, for what may be the very first time, a quantitative study of site-specific properties and uses of technical textiles from Bronze Age Greece that imply diachronic developments in textile technology.