Flax fibre: innovation and change in the early Neolithic: a technological and material perspective

Harris, S. (2015) Flax fibre: innovation and change in the early Neolithic: a technological and material perspective. In: Svenson, A. (ed.) Textile Society of America 2014 Biennial Symposium Proceedings: New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future, Los. University of Nebraska Digital Commons: California, pp. 1-10.

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Publisher's URL: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/913


Flax (Linum sp.) was one of the first domestic plants in Neolithic Europe, providing a potential cultivable source of fibres for the first farmers. As the plant provides both oil and fibre, it is a matter of enquiry as to whether the plant was first domesticated for its seeds or stem. Through examining new data collected by the EUROEVOL Project, UCL it is possible to chart the earliest archaeobotanical evidence for flax species in Europe. This provides the basis on which to consider the origin of fibres from the flax plant (linen) as a basis for change and innovation in the fibre resources used for textiles. These are then explored from a technological and material perspective. From a technological perspective I compare the chaîne opératoire of linen with contemporary sources of fibre, namely tree bast fibres and other wild resources in central and northern Europe. From a material perspective I consider the properties of flax and lime bast. Through these approaches this paper suggests that flax had a special role as a fibre domesticate in Europe, providing a versatile, valuable resource for the production and use of textiles during the Neolithic period.

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:Acceptance date unknown. Date input to allow publication upload.
Keywords:Archaeology, Textiles, flax, agriculture
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harris, Dr Susanna
Authors: Harris, S.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Publisher:University of Nebraska Digital Commons
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with permission of Authors

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