Sensible dress: the sight, sound, smell and touch of Late Ertebølle Mesolithic cloth types

Harris, S. (2014) Sensible dress: the sight, sound, smell and touch of Late Ertebølle Mesolithic cloth types. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 24(1), pp. 37-56. (doi: 10.1017/S0959774314000031)

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The aim of this paper is to investigate the sight, sound, smell and touch of different cloth-types in the Late Ertebølle of southern Scandinavia and to argue that such an approach provides stimulating new insights into an area of material culture that has previously been studied by archaeologists in a highly empirical manner. The archaeological evidence drawn together in this paper points to this as a time when furs and skin products were of prime importance and plant fibres were the basis for knotted nets, looped cloth and basketry. In the archaeological literature these cloth-types are usually treated separately and described according to the species of raw materials, such as pine marten fur, or the technology of their production, such as couched button hole stitch. Using an experiment where participants are asked to handle modern cloth-types and answer structured questionnaires, it is possible to create a sensory description of these cloth-types. These descriptive results are then used to reconsider aspects of cloth and clothing in the Late Ertebølle of southern Scandinavia. By moving from the standard technological description to a sensory description, the Mesolithic cloth types investigated in this paper are placed within a sensory and phenomenological theoretical framework. The presentation of these results seeks to provide a new description of these materials and allow archaeologists to revaluate the culturally embedded nature of cloth and clothing at that time.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Archaeology, Prehistoric, Mesolithic, Sensory, Textiles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harris, Dr Susanna
Authors: Harris, S.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
T Technology > TT Handicrafts Arts and crafts
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Cambridge Archaeological Journal
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1474-0540
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
First Published:First published in Cambridge Archaeological Journal 24(1):37-56
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
Cloth Cultures of Prehistoric EuropeSusanna HarrisBritish AcademyUNSPECIFIED