Estimating an Old Assyrian Household Textile Production with the Help of Experimental Archaeology : Feasibility and Limitations

Abstract : Cuneiform texts document three millennia of the ancient Near Eastern history. They include details about textile production in large workshops, and in the domestic sphere. This contribution focuses on the private textile production at Aššur during the 19th century BCE, (Old Assyrian period). Old Assyrian levels have not been excavated at Aššur, so we lack texts and archaeological remains for this city. To reconstruct the textile production there, we rely on the hundreds of letters sent by the Assyrian women to their family members in Anatolia, especially at Kültepe, the ancient city of Kaneš. There, excavations also provided textile tools. The textile production of the Aššur women had two goals: clothing household members, and fueling the long distance trade. The sale of textiles in Anatolia generated silver revenues for them. Hands-on experience, based on traditional textile crafts and archaeological textile tools, carried out at the Centre for Textile Research, provides data which can be used together with the textual documentation to estimate the number of textiles produced by a household in Aššur. This paper investigates the methodology to be used when combining the results of experimental archaeology with textual data, and the limitations of this interdisciplinary research.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 4, 2017 - 4:42:01 PM
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Cécile Michel. Estimating an Old Assyrian Household Textile Production with the Help of Experimental Archaeology : Feasibility and Limitations . Traditional Textile Craft – an Intangible Cultural Heritage?, Mar 2014, Amman, Jordan. pp.125-136. ⟨halshs-01426574⟩

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