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The Partial Application of Spain (University of Valencia) October 28, 2008

Filed under: Textiles & Dyes — Argy @ 7:48 pm
Coordinator:  Carmen Alfaro Giner


This partial application is necessary to include specific aspects of the clothing and textiles of the Roman hispaniae provinciae. Studies of textiles, dyes and clothes in ancient Europe are readily available. Now we need undertake a general view of the question for comparative and didactic purposes. From Greece to Hispania and from Britannia to Egypt, we can follow the expansion and assimilation of  Roman fashion with local custom. Close collaboration with our colleagues from other countries is our most important goal.

The preservation of a specific part of European culture is our common and necessary objective.  The cultural, legal and political unification brought by the Roman Empire fomented better communication and transportation of consumer goods, not the least of which were fashion items.  From this, we easily can understand the desire on the part of certain classical authors (Pliny, Strabo, Diodorus, Silius Italicus, etc.) to describe the particularities of local products.  This was done using qualitative criteria that call attention to the “internationalization” of a marketplace that was ever larger but at the same time more accessible within the framework of an ancient Europe in which one could acquire the most exotic luxury items. 

Consequently, our work cannot be conceived of as independent projects,  but rather within the framework of a common transmission of knowledge and ideas that allows us to paint a much richer overall vision.  

A) Characterization of Our Work Within the Mannheim Project



            Iberian and Roman Garments in Hispania: Similarities and Differences.

            This study will apply to a large costal territory extending from the Pyrennees to the Portuguese frontier, as well as some kilometers into the interior.   

            Chronologically we will study a period from III Century BC to Later Roman Empire (400-600 AD). 


Fields of the Various Collaborators.

1 – Written sources (C. Alfaro –F.J. Fernández – E. Tébar –M.J. Martínez, M. García, J.A. Molina)

  A study of the details transmitted to us by Greco-Roman authors about what they considered to be original or native to each of the indigenous populations they encountered. Some of this study will be drawn from the analysis of two doctoral theses by M.J. Martínez and  E. Tébar.

  Analysis of the primary sources concerning textile technology and aspects of costume in a cultural context now clearly Romanised. 

2 – Iconographical Sources (M.L. de Labandera – M.P. García-Gelabert)

– Investigation of the surviving Iberian iconography (sculpture, small bronzes,  bas-reliefs,  paintings, ceramics, etc.).

  Investigation of surviving Roman iconography in the same.

3 – Raw materials (C. Alfaro – E. Tébar- M.J. Martínez)

– Using modern analytical means (SEM –scanningelectronic microscope–, optical microscope, etc.) we intend to re-examine fibers from known textile remnants as well as those from the most recent archeological findings.

– Of interest will be comparative studies of various fibers from distinct Roman provinces.

4 – Textile Fragments (C. Alfaro – E. Tébar)

– We will base this study on known Iberian textiles and the possible localization of other unstudied materials conserved in some museums.

-In the case of firmly dated and clearly “Roman” textiles, we will attempt comparative studies in the Iberian and European context.

5 – Tools for Textile-working  (instrumenta textilia)  (E. Tébar)

-A study of the spatial archeology of these tools within the context of Iberian culture (specialized centers of production, distribution and commercialisation of manufactures, social sectors involved in textile production, etc.).  These aspects will be the focus of doctoral thesis.

6 – Dyes Most Frequently Employed (C. Alfaro – B. Costa – M.J. Martínez, A. Aleixandre)

At this moment we have access to ample information (W.A.Schmidt, R.J. Forbes, J. Doumet, D. Cardon, C. Alfaro for Hispania, etc.) but we think it necessary to go more deeply into the following areas in order to

1)  make a photographic data base, synoptic charts and actual methods of dyeing for each of these materials;

2)  include all of the data obtained from our excavations in Ibiza concerning the production of purple dye during the Imperial period, as well as its possible commercialisation to other parts of the Mediterranean and Northern provinces; and

3) develop a separate study of the imitation and counterfeiting of the highly valued purple dye, among others ( doctoral thesis  by M.J. Martínez).

7—Textile Manufacture and Gender.  (C. Alfaro, M. García) The manufacture of textiles and creation of clothing was carried out by both women and men in Antiquity, but quantitatively speaking women’s participation in this economy was much more important. 

8 – Clothin and religion. (F.J. Fernández, J.A. Molina, M.P. García Gelabert)  Is one the mos important consecuences of the Social Identity in Ancient World.

8 –  Lexicon on cloths terms. (F.J. Fernández, J.A. Molina). A general list of the terms used in Antiquity to designed the differents dresses in the Roman Empire.


 B)          Work Plan by Year


Phase I (01. 05. 2007):

-During this phase (Abril-Junio), Prof. Carmen Alfaro Giner will be a “Visiting Professor” at the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textiles Research (CTR).   Her activities will include but are not limited to

Working on a first overall view of what has been achieved thus far.

Reviewing the written primary sources relating to the production of fibres and textiles in Iberian Culture.

On the other hand she and his team will be working in

Collecting new materials in the Museums (normally mineralised textiles adhering to metallic tools, weapons, etc.).

Including preliminary findings into database.

Analyzing fibres and dyes and creating data bases of MEB photographs.

Creating a corpus of iconographic masterpieces (ceramics, relieves, sculptures mosaics).

Project of reconstruction of the dress of the iberian women, in collaboration with the Center of Lejre (DK) and A. Batzer and I. Demant.

Meeting of all participants in Valencia (4-6.10.2007).

Working on on-going excavations of purple dye workshops in Ibiza (15 October – 15 November).


Phase II (01. 05. 2008):

Analyzing the warp and weft systems of the most important textiles conserved in Iberian territories.

Studying the limited remains of golden tapestries that we conserve from the Roman period. 

Studying the iconography of the  Corpus prepared in phase I.

Studying textile production in some of the more important and significant archaeological sites in order to determine the spatial distribution of the professional and private textile workshops.

Working on on-going excavations of purple dye workshops in Ibiza


Phase  III  (01. 02. 2009 – 31. 10. 2009):

Comparing the results gained in different media (the evidence from textiles and written sources, analyses of the different aspects of the ancient fashion, etc.).

Discussing and evaluating correspondence from participating investigators and resolving discrepancies.

Working on on-going excavations of purple dye workshops in Ibiza.

Working meeting with all the participants in the project.

Determining the date of the exhibition.


Phase IV (01. 11. 2009 – 30. 04. 2010):

Concluding analyses.

Developing the concept of the exhibition.

Last meeting of all participants (01. 03. 2010)

Presenting the results of the project

Answering last ideas and questions concerning the concluding report

Planning of the exhibition.


C)  Annual budget


         -Trips of the contributors to museums in order to locate new materials. 

-Analyses of dyes, fibres  and textiles.

Economic support for the meetings.

A grant or labour contract (three years) for a secretary to the investigation group (Art. 11, 2, p. 17 s.).