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Textiles from recent excavations at Nimrud

  • Elisabeth Crowfoot, M. C. Whiting and Kathryn Tubb

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Textile fragments from the excavation of royal graves at Nimrud in 1988–89 (see Iraq 51 (1989), p. 259) may at first appear disappointing. After the magnificent array of gold jewellery, these scraps may seem of very minor interest, but though technically limited, their original fine execution can still be recognised as befitting a royal burial. The burials probably date to the second half of the eighth century BC.

The queen's body inside the bronze coffin of Tomb 2 was covered with what first appeared to be a solid layer of brittle dark brown wood, but on examination patterns of threads and weave structures could be identified in many areas. The colour varied, different layers being slightly tinged with purple and red, and careful separation by Kathryn Tubb in the Institute of Archaeology Conservation laboratory revealed different styles and qualities of woven cloth. Lines, which at first suggested to the eye the graining of fine wood, proved to be folds, in some areas probably fine pleating or goffering, and it was clear that a mass of delicate fabrics had been present, clothing and wrapping the body, or lying piled up over it (Fig. 5).

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* The author wishes to thank Dr Muayyad Said Damerji for permission to examine the samples at the Institute of Archaeology in London and to publish this report.

Textiles from recent excavations at Nimrud

  • Elisabeth Crowfoot, M. C. Whiting and Kathryn Tubb

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