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Ancient Cloth Production in Greece and Turkey

The Bryn Mawr Classical Review has a review of Brendan Burke’s From Minos to Midas: Ancient Cloth Production in the Aegean and in Anatolia. Ancient Textiles Series 7. This is interesting because the Minoan culture existed during the Mature Harappan period and we can learn how these states produced and exchanged clothes as well as how they used seals.

Two interesting sections in this chapter caught my attention: his discussions of purple dye and of Minoan seal stones. Burke argues for the appearance of purple dye from murex snails to occur in Minoan Crete before anywhere else in the Mediterranean (34ff). He brings together textual sources, bioarchaeological evidence, artifacts, and archaeological facilities and contexts in his discussion, and extends it to consider the role of textiles in ancient overseas trade between Minoan Crete and other cultures in the eastern Mediterranean.

Burke argues for the administration of textile production in the Old Palace Period, based on seal impressed loom weights and spindle whorls as well as a certain type of prismatic seal. He suggests that a motif found on more than twenty-five different seal stones represents three to five loom weights suspended from a bar at the bottom of a warp-weighted loom (44ff, especially fig. 30).3 Burke concludes that the standardized weights of loom weights and their concentrated numbers indicate a “regulated textile industry administered by the Old Palace at Knossos” (58).[Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.12.67]

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