dyes

Colour, flax and Bronze Age textiles – all inspiring stuff!

Small ball of spun plant fibre. Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), photo Dave Webb

Small ball of spun plant fibre. Copyright Cambridge Archaeological Unit (CAU), photo Dave Webb

I’m Susanna Harris and I’m a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. Today has been a race through my to-do list. It’s been full of talented people and amazing artefacts. Archaeology is a wonderful world to work in.

In at 8.15 after my swim and straight to the lab to sort textile samples from the Must Farm Bronze Age settlement. Gert sets up the stereomicroscope and I choose my samples. I’ve been looking forward to this all week and I love it.

At my desk, Archaeology, University of Glasgow. Photo: Pablo Llopis

At my desk, Archaeology, University of Glasgow. Photo: Pablo Llopis

I go back to my office to prepare an order for microscope stubs with Agar Scientific, only to find it’s the last day of the financial year so I accelerate it through with my brilliant administrator Kelly.

Next I’m reading through a colleague’s grant application on historic dyes analysis – it’s inspiring and I am lost in the world of dye and colour.  Dropping by Tessa’s office, I meet Pablo Llopis, a photographer who agrees to take a photo for this post :-). He sees a book I’m reading on vision and we end up discussing colour theory – there’s a theme developing here. All thought provoking ideas for my research on clothing and perception.

Vision and colour theory. Photo: Susanna Harris

Vision and colour theory. Photo: Susanna Harris

I check my emails. Among a flurry of requests for next semester’s teaching, the editor of BBC History Magazine is looking for a feature on Must Farm and wants a fresh angle on the textiles. We chat on the phone and I email him some ideas.

I notice the time and remember I need to order some freshly pulled flax plants as I want to set up an experiment with my undergraduate students. I call the farm and catch Simon cutting oil-seed rape. He’ll sort the flax and post it.

Green flax plants. Photo: Susanna Harris

Green flax plants. Photo: Susanna Harris

I drop by the head of department’s office to ask him if there is a nearby lawn where I can leave my flax to ret (a rotting process to help extract the fibres). He suggests the wildlife garden. I follow his directions and check it out – it will be perfect if estates and buildings give me permission.

The last thing I need to do today is finish writing an abstract for a conference in Berlin on Neolithic and Bronze Age textile fibres. I’m off to make a cup of tea and settle down at the computer to write it.

Here are some of my papers on prehistoric textiles: https://glasgow.academia.edu/SusannaHarris

And links to Bronze Age textiles from Must Farm: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jul/14/uks-best-bronze-age-site-must-farm-dig-ends-analyis-continue-years

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/bronze-age-inferno-preserved-extraordinary-view-life-united-kingdom-3000-years-ago

This one with video of me talking about the finds and site: http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/headline_474953_en.html