Archaeological experiments are sometimes the only way to find out more about the finds that come out of the soil. With many textile workers coming together, the forum is an excellent opportunity to experiment on a large scale.
In September 2009, we have tackled a very basic problem of archaeological textile studies: Influences on Spinning. There are only comparatively few finds of threads and fabrics, but many finds of spindle whorls. Yet there is no way to link the textiles to the tools they were produced with, since we do not know which spindle was used for producing a given thread.
It is obvious that a coarse fibre is not best suited to make fine, supple threads, and that using a very light spindle for very thick threads might be possible, but not efficient. But what is efficient? And how much influence have the methods and approaches of each individual spinner?
Our experiment was successful, thanks to the fifteen wonderful spinners who participated. Analysis of the dataset is currently in progress, and the data gained looks promising. If you are interested in the experiment, you can read more about goals and setup here. A first presentation of the Forum and the Spinning Experiment was given at the liveARCH conference in Hungary, October 2009.
The Spinning Experiment and its outcome and results have since been presented at the OEGUF conference 2010, and a detailed paper about this is forthcoming. Another paper is in preparation for the first Proceedings volume of the Textile Forum, editored by Heather Hopkins.
To make the data gathered during the experiment available to more scholars, enabling discussion and easier research, the raw data of the experiment (data tables, information about design and analysis, and photographic evidence) is available here.
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