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Colour, Pattern, Glamour - Textiles as prestige goods, Central Europe 800-400 BC

Karina Grömer, AT

The use of colourful textiles, dyed with various plant sources and insect dyes, patterned with complex designs, can be traced back to the 1st millennium BC in Central Europe. Especially the Hallstatt Period fabrics between 800 and 400 BC are of high quality, and decoratively designed by weave structures, colours, patterns and elaborately made borders.
This is illustrated by a variety of archaeological sources – from tools and original textile finds to contemporary depictions and written sources of the Late Iron Age. Some key finds can be named in this context: the saltmines from Hallstatt and Dürrnberg in Austria; as well as the princely graves at Hochdorf and Hohmichele in Germany.

There, more than 1000 textile fragments were found, shedding a fascinating and colourful light on textile production skill in the Iron Age in Central Europe.
Within Early Iron Age, even the interplay between textiles and metal objects attached to them reaches a very high standard (up to woven-in gold stripes) – expressing wealth and beauty. So the visual complexity of textile objects, with bright colours and interesting patterns, can be proved, at least by original textile finds from the salt mine of Hallstatt. This development was perhaps fostered by the emergence of differentiated social structures at the beginning of the Iron Age.
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Karina Grömer, Mag. Dr., Studied prehistoric archaeology at the University of Vienna in Austria. She is specialised in textile analysis, researches on textile tools and reconstruction of prehistoric costume. Since 2008 she has been working for international research projects such as “DressID - Clothing and Identity in the Roman World” “CinBA – Creativity in the Bronze Age” und “Chehrabad Saltmummy & Saltmine Exploration Project” at the Department of Prehistory of the Natural History Museum Vienna. Her current research focuses on the analysis of textiles from graves and salt mines in present-day Austria, covering a time-span from 2000 BC till 1000 AD. Her duties at the Natural History Museum Vienna also include dissemination work. She teaches at the Universities of Vienna, Southampton and Brno, lectures and holds practicals about “Archaeological Textile Research”.
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Textile Kultur Haslach
Stahlmühle 4, A-4170 Haslach

Austrian Commission for UNESCO/Österreichische UNESCO-Kommission
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