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The question of prehistoric silks in Europe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Lise Bender Jørgensen
Affiliation:
*Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, N-7491 Trondheim, Norway (Email: lise.bender@ntnu.no)
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Abstract

Textiles and clothing are among the most visible aspects of human social and symbolic behaviour and yet they have left all too few traces in the archaeological record and it is easy to overlook their importance. Luxury textiles such as silk can additionally provide evidence of long-distance contact, notably between Europe and China during the Han dynasty and the Roman empire. But can these connections be projected back in time to the prehistoric period? The late Irene Good proposed a number of identifications of silk in Iron Age Europe and was instrumental in bringing the issue to wider attention. Closer examination reported here, however, calls those identifications into question. Instead, the case is put that none of the claimed Iron Age silks can be confirmed, and that early traffic in silk textiles to Europe before the Roman period cannot be substantiated.

Type
Research article
Copyright
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 2013

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References

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