chapter  5
21 Pages

Temporality, Materiality and Women’s Networks: The Production and Manufacture of Loom Weights in the Greek and Indigenous Communities of Southern Italy


Textile production is one of the oldest craft activities practised in the Mediterranean and beyond since the Neolithic period (Barber 1991). Archaeological evidence, as well as iconographic representations and textual sources, shows how most of the different activities consistent with textile production, primarily spinning and weaving, were prevalently associated with women in many ancient societies (Gleba 2009: 69). Despite the potential of this body of information, archaeological research has rarely focused on textile activities and their accompanying equipment (but see Alfaro et al. 2011; Andersson Strand et al. 2010; Gillis and Nosch 2007; Gleba 2008; Gleba and Mannering 2012; also Burke 2010 with full references for the Aegean area). In particular, the tools for textile activities are quite neglected in the archaeological literature, since they have rarely been the subject of carefully analysis and study, although they provide fundamental information about textile production. Only recently have specific studies focusing on spindle whorls, bobbins and loom weights highlighted the role they played in the different stages of the textile chaîne opératoire and the clues they provide for a better understanding of craft and cultural aspects of the ancient societies and communities (Gleba 2009; Sofroniew 2011).