The sensory archaeology of textiles

Authored by: Susanna Harris

The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138676299
eBook ISBN: 9781315560175
Adobe ISBN:


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Textiles are sensuous; we respond to them through touch, vision and smell, movement, sound and temperature. Through sensations, textiles embody emotions of identity and define hierarchies of power and value. Yet through the taphonomy of decay, ancient textiles are frequently devoid of their original sensory properties; they come to us as faded, fragile, dirty rags. A sensory archaeology of textiles, therefore, requires a suite of methods to reveal these sensations and a contextual analysis to interpret them within their chronological and regional archaeologies. In rising to this challenge, this chapter proposes for the first time a sensory archaeology of textiles. Through innovative case studies, the author invites the reader to recognise the implications of a sensory archaeology of textiles and to consider the consequences for their own research fields.

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