Iron Age textiles on bronzes

Today I’m writing up my analysis of Iron Age textiles represented on the sheet bronze artefacts of northern Italy. These buckets, belt buckles and scabbards are called situla art and date to the 6th century BC. The miniature figures embossed and engraved on the bronzes are enjoying themselves feasting, drinking and riding their fine horses. The textiles are recorded with tiny points and tool marks. I’m finding ways to calculate their quantity and quality because I want to understand the textile economy.


Modern copy of the Montebellunas situla

The photo shows a reconstruction of a bronze bucket at Montebelluna museum in north Italy. The other photo is me trying my hand at embossing a figure. I was on a field visit there earlier in the year.

It’s great to get a quiet hour or two over the summer to read. This afternoon I was reading Peter Wells book on “Image and Response in Early Europe”, where he talks about the way people respond to this kind of art by tracing around the shape of the object with their eyes then focusing on the detailed areas. The figures on the shiny bronzes would certainly have attracted attention.

The same can be said of the textiles themselves, and there is evidence that large, intricately patterned and multi-coloured textiles were particularly prized in the early first millennium BC.

I’m a Research Associate at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Some of my papers can be downloaded here. For more about the ERC PROCON textile economy project click here or check us out on Facebook. If you have any questions get in touch, I like to hear from fellow enthusiasts.