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Norse North Atlantic Textiles And Textile Production – Michèle Hayeur Smith



what we need to do is have questions directly – but these dates up just to show you when these persons were settled and basically now the research that I am inventing today is based on two research projects that been going on for about six years now doing on with Linux next on the first one I saw the textiles and involved with this contextualizing business my tutorial into a greater North Atlantic perspective so looking at other areas in those wanting to see how that exultation is are similar material that covers a very long time three thousand years of the settlements roughly the ninth century to the 19th century they don't my god this is such a huge amount of time but this is a really good way to be able to actually track patterns and changes in cleaning conditions in this area this research has been funded by the National Science Foundation of the United States now textiles you might know they're like the Scandinavian Texas and they are but they do actually a unified and somewhat different group of artifacts even though the techniques tools and a lot of the technology came from Scandinavian homeland there are some regional adjustment adjustments what I'd like to do today is to training the demonstrate the teaches started out with comparable meeting traditions but eventually they adapted their own traditions and basically catering either to their own needs or things that affected their life style such as isolation environmental hardship or the influences of the Little Ice Age for example and international trade one thing to bear in mind with textiles is that textile work was done by the women and effect my research has focused a lot on issues of gender and women in the North Atlantic we often find that women are absent in archaeological record and if you actually turns the objects in the artifacts that women produce you can actually gain access to their lives their concerns decision-making etc in Iceland in the North Atlantic men did not engage in textile production and this is apparent not only in the archaeological data but also in the sauna literature one thing I have to stress before I start any further on the textiles is that in the North Atlantic there are no urban centers so we were not talking about a textile tradition that is based in guilds or based in towns this is done on the individual apartments across the area now so the article article textiles in Scandinavia are very well researched it's not entirely it was the case in the northwest when I started there is something are quite a bit known about the Greenlandic material thanks to the monograph that was produced by us of a cigar in 2004 called woven into the earth in Iceland they were the focus under logical textiles but they were the focus of the late house of Williamson who was actually researched more issues of the national costume she's more interested in ethnographic material tapestries finer items of clothing or find their items of textiles rather than looking at the scratchy little brown rags that come out of the mittens of Norse farms which there are some of the material was looked at by Mark Hofmann and Penelope Walton Rodgers also looked at the material from the wrinkled farm now one of the things about the preservation this is particularly true for Iceland the textile collections are huge and one of the reason for this is obviously preservation is complete if environmental conditions normally textile do not preserve on archaeological sites or very little it's partly to do with the permafrost but in Iceland the way you find them is often interred between blocks of turf so when they're thrown out as garbage so they're discarded and they are encased between these walks of turtle which creates a very acidic environment which textiles a lot of and bones not so much so you end up at these big pieces that come out which is quite fun so if we look at the numbers in the collections at the moment per region you can see that Iceland really is way more substantial than the other areas partially of course it has to do with preservation between and these are rough estimates between five thousand ten thousand Greenland 736 probably a few more than that Faroe Islands there wasn't much known about it until I got there and I've managed to find about 142 but I'm not completely done I'm not going to talk too much about the tools except to say that the work waited loom was used across the area until the early 1700s and the drop spindle or high chopper only spin up your leg and of course the Sheep seems to want to jump on some the sheet which is in the North Atlantic variety all right now so in Iceland textile production was one of the more important household activities of ice endures in the medieval period like I said before produced entirely by women they rapidly gained importance becoming a significant trade commodity exported to Norway in the early medieval period with growing markets expanding first of the British Isles and then to Northern Europe now in Iceland cloth in the early medieval period became the basis of the economic system and used as a type of currency with an equivalent value in the weights of silver or based on consumer and they use textiles to pay taxes tithes debts fines and in fact many people literary sources and law code such as got August yamashita notice beaucoup a look all suggested there were very strict legal guidelines that were implemented that were regulating despise the length and the quality of this currency so I'm just going to put this up this just these are some snippets basically from these sources you know suggesting that this was in fact a type of currency but beyond its uses kinda see it also had many utilitarian function so cloth had many different lines starting out as currency but it also was often cut turn into clothing sales tents household implements blankets pillows towels etc thanks um the term of the currency and this is if you pay attention to the cloth in the background this is what is known as Bosma and Bob mal comes from to Norse words above meaning stuff or cloth and model to measure which means basically the bottom all should mean cloth measure to standard and it's a term that's used very loosely Oh got Bob MO and they brown those legs Bob long but really Bob mouth is money okay and it is the money and physically what it looks like it is a 2 2 to 12 it says s spun and it has a thread count range between 4 and 14 more threads per centimeters now this brings me of course with the different weave types in Iceland and in fact in the medieval period fog model pretty much numbers everything the two to twelve he also finds some taggi leaves which is worth actually less than isn't actually used as currency and it's interesting because when you are looking at the Viking Age material you also apply in the fair amounts of two to two twelves but you find it when you look at these and this is what you get when you could be prospective like that is that you find in fact that the Viking Age material is more diverse I think I've stopped waving this around is slightly more diverse types of we use more more color in the material smaller collections and then when you get into medieval period it goes down to brown brown eyes which I'm not saying that they're all around because of course often if you run dye analysis you wanted that they are other colors as well but we do find a real originating in the menu with a far less diversity and types of leaves that you actually see so one thing that I do is that I do I use do two thread counts which of course is oh my god so boring doing thread counts and it's not fun but they aren't actually like when you buy a pair of sheets you can look at your thread counts on the sheet and tells you how high your textile is and actually thread counts are really useful devices to help you figure out how fine or of course your textiles are but they're also great data points for tracking changes in textile production strategies assembly to the variability across standardization industrialization and more and so you begin to look at the menu material and this is what struck me and you start to look at many sites suddenly you find that these two to two tools are coming at you like crazy and they're all the same they are all loading the same they all have to say finish and it is like a match of the explosion of two to twelve in fact it really gets kind of boring because every single site has the same thing with a similar range of thread counts now what this produces if you start plotting it on a graph you start to find the things are actually really really tight and very tightly clustered and what in fact you're seeing is that you were seeing this standardization extremely standardization in production and you find that you do have this range roughly between about five to about fourteen or threads per centimeters these are each one are different medieval sites and what you find is also you find that some are a bit more popular than others and in the later medieval period you actually find that there were different grades of this stuff it was not very good before worked for work friends per centimeters was the pocket bottom of the roughly and you've had some very fine stuff where you had the development which is actually the currency so what's happening in Iceland when you look at this material you start contrasting and also clearly modern material or the Viking material is you find really the cloth had become a lot more than just a basic material for producing other other objects and had become instead a standardized legal unit of currency produced on a CAHSEE industrial scale within Iceland it's also traded overseas every medieval site that you come across will have a huge amount of these two to twelve or be involved now why is this why did they do this one of the explanations is that at the end of the Viking Age the silver supplies were dwindling in Iceland and before that their economy was based on a silver and I'm the weight of silver and what they did is that they basically took what they have they have fish they have whoa so the woe becomes currency and this was something also that they had learned in Norway and in fact if you go into Western Norway and we look at the good of thing law you will see that they dimension godmom as well and they do mention very very similar weights and values for it as you find in goss but it turns out that actually the good of thing law was the model for a towers and so they basically riceland they took what was mentioned in Norway and they just in boobs and this becomes their forth of currency anyway so by the last decades of the 10th century when the Icelander sales team them to settle they brought with them obviously this important textile tradition but there is no evidence that they use to discouragement at all in fact one of the more interesting factors with with Greenland is that at some point in time around the 14th century you start to see a shift in how they are making this cloth so you find the same weave types the same exactly the same kind of cloth and until about that point and then they begin to add in their textiles more weft yarns so the works are the vertical ones of the weft so the horizontal ones as a rule of thumb the rest textiles tend to be slightly more work dominance and in the 14th century in Greenland they start to change to the system from these are both from the same site earlier later and in the later periods they begin to add more weft so they began those packing them in like crazy now I'm not a person who identified this in fact this was observed by Elsa this to GARP and she attributed the weft on that cloth to the later sequins and basically that women were looking to make more more clothing in the face of increasingly harsh winters and it is an effective strategy in garment construction and she felt that actually that the use in Norse they used to separate the two on the sheet they would separate the other pair from the inner hair and use the other pairs as working arms in the intervals as the West which was more fluffy so she felt that in fact if they used more of the underneath and beat it more closely to the loom they were in fact creating a more firm and warm product she never identified a specific date from when this occurred and so on I'm sorry in 2013 I had the chance actually to work with Conrad smear off ski from Hunter College and he had been working in the galley Lutheran in Greenland in the eastern settlements at a place called tents of Kentucky late at the site of a 172 and he was an excavating a midden and so he they handed me the textiles and I was actually lucky because thankfully they had quite a good control of the chronological secret so we're actually able to look at when this behavior had occurred so here is his agent Harris matrix and what I found it was it in fact in his face one which is a thousand to 1100 the textiles are exactly what Gaston detects us or more work dominant and then towards the end of phase one I've started to see that the textiles were actually of equal sort of what we call balance so equal warps equal webs almost as if there was an experiment phase going on and you start to see this happening here and this continues is equal sort of thread count sometimes one more left journey I'm sure in his face to touch it so basically around twelve hundred towards the end of his face to you start to see the appearance and emergence of this weft are dominant cloth which continues right into his face three so all right so if you plot this on a graph and you here you see here the great boxes are his Phase two and towards the end in his face duties start to see during the wet dominant and in gray light gray I put hairlessness which labor site where all the tax laws are wet dominant and I simply impose that on top of the Icelandic medieval material so you can sort of see the differences that are going on all right or wasn't now ok so then like what I did is that I took a couple of samples of cloth from the face to in the late face to to see when did this phenomenon actually take place I sent these off for Anna's dating she made analytic laboratories in Miami and the results that came back or between 1308 and 1362 which is actually well within the range of the first transition during the Little Ice Age and so then what I did is that I went to the climate data and said ok what's going on what if the climatologist saying about this and this is an article by man at all and if you look at the northern hemisphere mean you start to see the drops in temperatures correlate exactly with when they are starting to make lepton in cloth so if you look at this little green box here these are rather than dates and make that late with the first real drop in temperature so it really seems to be something that they are doing infections right in that they are really trying to keep warm so generally obviously our discussions of climate change are relatively abstract employing proxy measures rather than evidence of human suffering or agency and this type of behavior is so rare in the archaeological record and particularly manifested in material culture like this it brings to mind the decisions and decision-making processes that had to me when they change the way they produce cloth when the temperatures drop what did they do well they adjusted their weaving to this and it's interesting because they don't actually change the appearance of the cloth too much they don't affect its weight is a bit more dense and it's not I they having trouble either working with my sewing with it so it's not completely changed or still within basically what they understand as cloth phenomenas jump to Farrell islands in the next place now when I go through the Faroe Islands very little was known about archaeological textiles they were like we don't know what kind of texts that we have and start going through the collections and actually in a week we were able to identify 142 items of cloth from the entire period almost nothing from the Viking Age maybe one piece and about 44 which I have displayed right here from the medieval period now the problem with obviously the Faroes material there wasn't as much conditions are different so it's very difficult to sort of figure out if there are any patterns that you can see the same way as you see this is actually really too small for that but there was one thing that really struck me was that you need particular Caleta conditions for the preservation of vulgar textiles and yet we do have a want of spinning wheel spinners wastes wrong rule and Scratchy bits of cordage and whatnot made of wool and very little textiles so the question is where so discussing with seamen are gave the head archaeologist there he was thinking you know this is got to be because the material was traded somewhere else it was just possibility of course so looking into this whole theory of trade in textiles now in Iceland we know that Texas figured is an important commodity in international trade prior to the 14th century and some scholars actually such as Bruce Gayle Seaver believed that in a 10th century Norway that they were keen trading partners with Iceland trading for textiles and other supplies wood grain etc but they were really interested in acquiring warm cloth as well he felt that in fact they they didn't have enough wool cloth in Norway or to him and so they were supplementing it with North Atlantic or a Spartan wool also very windy I was finding it was quite cheap as well in ten twenty to two countries have established their first reciprocal commercial agreement Norway also forged ties with England to acquire additional supplies to satisfy both Norwegian and Icelandic markets so according the same author the need for cheap inexpensive considerably rough cloth also brew in England because in England there was very fine wool wool in the block being produced but it was also and exported elsewhere and so there was a lack of sort of cheap stuff to clothe the urban poor so according to his interpretation bob nobb was used in by the urban poor in europe and he supported this partially by medieval documentary data for the competitive prices in icelandic cloudmom but also using post medieval sources such as the Brothers Grimm where the turn of the bottom all is not defined as a type of coffee used by the lower classes and the poppers in Germany so it does it's a tournament bottom of one wooden wall shows up around Europe as being this cheap crappy itchy cloth and the month sanika lead also who made their way to Norway during the 13th century it's thought that the bottom one that they obtained in Norway close report was also probably North Atlantic it's landed in anyway now in September I went to Bergen and I went to the Bergen Museum to have a look at their collections of sort of a little pilot project to kind of assess the nature of these collections they have a collection of about 3,000 to 4,000 items of cloth and I stand with about 338 pieces this is obviously doing a visual assessment at this point because you know I would have needed obviously more time and I'm actually collaborating with these hunson right now who are going to be combining an analysis in an analysis of the textiles along with doing some strontium analysis which will help identify the provenance and where does material came but for my first assessment I would say that about percent of the cloth in the collections are probably Atlantic imitating plenty and it's possible actually that's in fact the Faroes material ended up there as well now I also was reading more recently that apparently in Shetland a lot of cloth was exported towards Norway as well and like Iceland textiles were used as currency up until about the 1600s used to pay taxes to landowners governors etc according to some archival sources Texas were also produced for trade of which large amounts were being shipped to Norway so it's possible that in fact Waterbar North Atlantic cloth that you're not seeing necessarily Shetland pheromones was actually has ended up in the Norwegian collection so it's important I think at this point to go and look towards an area and possibly even material from northey's well maybe they were sending as well so basically to sort of wrap this all up we have three situations all three coming from a similar textile tradition each one kind of evolved into its own thing in Iceland they took one type of cloth and just exploded it there produced almost in an industrial fashion on every farm across Iceland the cloth is highly standardized and is also described and supported by the medieval law codes and and law books probably a lack of resources and lack of silver in this bargain economy system prompted people to use their local resources more than fish obviously in both local and international trade within Iceland it was caught was currency and you see this is really kind of an explosion that happens in Greenland there's no evidence for this currency there's no evidence of standardization anyway you also find a mixtures of other fibers sometimes incorporated with the claws like they're trying to stretch their resources as well um so you really and you also see the effects of the Little Ice Age through this web dominant cloth that you see in Greenland and in the Faroe Islands ooh if there's more textile debris and spinners way strong rule than there are actual textiles insufficient data to support a theory of currency going on there where are the textiles and it could be that if activism on trade going on that and a lot of it was being produced for exports and at what they needed in Paris it was probably not a huge amount and I think future research we will look at what is in barrier so the differences in textile production are already noted in Easton and the Iceland and Greenland may show up in some European collections and could be used as distinct markers are signatures combines with other analyses to shed more light on the question of trade and movement of cloth in this northern area but taken individually each one of these regions is suggesting unique adaptive strategies reflected in material culture all stemming from common textile traditions they evolved into their own idea of Socratic way based on the hardship or environmental conditions people found themselves in and more importantly though it's also offers a glimpse into the world of women so frequently absent from the archaeological record the decisions they took as weavers and deliberately trying to survive in this harsh mountain I'm sure we have some useful questions thanks a lot for the presentation she'll have a little question you mentioned that in the Icelandic record the earlier VAT model is more colorful and more variety and later it becomes obviously a commodity right do you think the first material might be tabarak a variation in the earlier material might be related to the fact that circulated through other channels and trained like this gift source the troll distribution that's totally possible and in the other half actually in the Viking Age material support a lot more diverse we've certainly 20 basket we probably think that I'm Tabitha will be balanced all of that seems to kind of doing the less than many period a lot of the material also seems to be having produced in a normal way and a lot of it is actually it's it comes from their their context and in fact the textiles are spun differently and they are slightly different and in what you're obviously seeing in the medieval period is also material to do so so yes the fences that Michele is really very interesting and just just as to flag up really and do you have any soaps that you've seen in years in the later period early modern yes walk yeah but in the Viking era because one of the things that's that's really changing in the new discoveries in Scotland and men in Scotland is that we've got a fantastic new horde who Galloway with us which is absolutely packed with sweet goods but also silks and friends are wrapped individually in cells but the pot itself it is a beautiful Carol engineering is wrapped in a really quite coarse cloth I kind of you know described it as a sock because I didn't know whether it was non bending I don't do textiles in here but I just think that I think Penny's looking at that I mean that might be quite an interesting things I guess that's a route that's coming into the day long and that's comparable to what you're looking at so it's often difficult so we are very clean very clean that there is a whole category of textiles but do you have embroideries and that we're often in church do you have more sort of symbols but if it's more money okay so this is basically I guess how much how much money do you have the interesting thing in Iceland is that the money is made by women and legally regulated they're making money it's my great pleasure

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