Women and textile production in pre-Roman Italy

Authored by: Margarita Gleba

Women in Antiquity

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138808362
eBook ISBN: 9781315621425
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219910


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Textile production is one of the oldest specialized crafts and archaeological, iconographic and written evidence indicates that, in most ancient societies, spinning and weaving were practised primarily by women (Barber 1994). The reason for this is simple: it is an occupation compatible with childcare, because it can easily be carried out at home, interrupted and resumed again and throughout history women have been the primary child carers and remain so even in our highly industrialized societies (Brown 1970). Not only were women involved in textile production but it occupied an inordinate amount of their time. It is hardly surprising that, over millennia, textile craft became a symbol of the female sphere of life. In pre-Roman Italy, women’s contribution to the community as textile workers was illustrated in iconography and expressed by the deposition of their spinning and weaving tools in their burials.

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