Textiles in a Viking Age hoard: identifying ephemeral traces of textiles in metal corrosion products

Davis, M. and Harris, S. (2023) Textiles in a Viking Age hoard: identifying ephemeral traces of textiles in metal corrosion products. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, (doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2022.103796) (In Press)

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This paper presents a novel method and terminology to identify and describe textiles from ephemeral traces in metal corrosion products. Since the 1980s, mineralised textiles (positive and negative casts in Janaway’s terminology) have been an important source of archaeological evidence. A major issue now is the identification of textiles in metal corrosion products when only faint traces remain. These traces no longer appear like textiles and are vulnerable to misinterpretation. Confused with metal dendritic structures or the form of corrosion products themselves, they are often lost through handling or cleaned off through conservation practices. This loss is cumulatively significant. To remedy this issue, this paper defines and characterises the form and structure of ephemeral traces of archaeological textiles through examination of metal corrosion products on a Viking Age hoard from Scotland. It defines a new terminology to supplement Janaway: petal shapes, remnant textile surface, ghost textile surface. The analysis follows an investigative inquiry from assessment to laboratory analysis using a Dinolite portable digital microscope, optical light microscopy with Z stacking and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The results allow the secure identification of textiles from previously unidentified corrosion features. The method has wide applicability to corroded archaeological metal objects and has the potential to significantly increase the identification of textiles associated with metals and transform current understanding of hoards.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:‘Unwrapping the Galloway Hoard’ is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council 633 (AHRC AH/T012218/1), PI Martin Goldberg, Curator, National Museums Scotland, CoI 634 Susanna Harris, Senior Lecturer University of Glasgow
Status:In Press
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harris, Dr Susanna
Authors: Davis, M., and Harris, S.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Journal Name:Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
ISSN (Online):2352-4103
Published Online:17 January 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308656Galloway HoardSusanna HarrisArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/T012218/1Arts - Archaeology