Treasures from the Sea: Sea Silk & Shellfish Purple Dye in Antiquity
Author: Hedvig Landenius Enegren & Francesco Meo
This interdisciplinary volume presents a collection of 17 papers which treat the current state of research on two marine resources used in ancient textile manufacture, shellfish purple dye and sea silk. Purple dye is extracted from the glands of the molluscs Hexaplex trunculus, Bolinus Brandaris and Stramonita Haemastoma which through a chemical reaction of photosynthesis produces hues ranging from dark red to bluish purple colour. The importance of purple dye since ancient times as a status symbol, a sign of royal and religious power is well documented.
Papers include the study of epigraphical and historical sources, practical experiments as well as, highlighting the presence of purple dye in the Mediterranean area in select archaeological data. Less well known is sea silk, a precious fibre derived from the tufts of the pen shell, Pinna nobilis, with which the mollusc anchors itself to the seabed. These tufts once cleaned and bleached take the aspect of golden thread.
Only a handful of artisans on Sardinia still have the knowledge of how to work these fibres from the pen shell, a species protected by the EU Habitats Directive, the knowledge having been transmitted orally for generations. Papers include linguistic issues pertaining to terminology, archaeological investigation, the study of the physical and chemical properties of sea silk and the step-by-step practical working of sea silk fibres. The comprehensive multifaceted overview makes this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in ancient textiles, dyes and textile technology.
Hedvig Landenius Enegren is a researcher affiliated with the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Textile Research (CTR), University of Copenhagen. She trained as an archaeologist in Stockholm and Uppsala and her research spans from Aegean Late Bronze Age and Eastern Mediterranean epigraphy of the first millennium BCE to ancient textiles and textile tool technology. She is currently conducting research on the textile tool material from Grotta Vanella at Segesta, Sicily.
Francesco Meo is a researcher and Adjunct Professor at the University of Salento, Italy and teaches the Archaeology of Magna Graecia. He is currently the Scientific Director of the Muro Leccese Archaeological Project, a Messapian indigenous settlement in the southern Puglia region in Italy. His research explores textile production in southern Italy between the Iron Age and the Roman Empire and the changes of the Messapian indigenous society between the Iron Age and the arrival of the Romans in the 3rd century BC.
- Series: Ancient Textiles Series (Book 30)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Oxbow Books; 1 edition (May 12, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1785704354
- ISBN-13: 978-1785704352
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches