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Fulling, Fuller

(333 words)

Author(s): Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Woollen fabrics intended for the manufacture of  clothing were processed into cloth by means of fulling (κναφευτική/ knapheutikḗ sc. τέχνη/ téchnē; Lat. fullonica). This process endowed the fabric with greater strength and density. The fabric was trodden in a mixture of warm water, soda and human or animal urine ( urina fullonia: Plin. HN 28,174; especially valued was the urine of  camels: Plin. HN 28,91; cf. also Mart. 6,93). The fabric was then treated with fuller's earth, a special clay ( creta fullonica). The finest clay came from the islands of Cimolos ( creta Cimoli…

Linen, flax

(966 words)

Author(s): Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main) | Renger, Johannes (Berlin)
[German version] I. General Linen (λίνον/ línon, Lat. linum) or flax belongs to the family of Geraniaceae. Linum angustifolium is considered the original form of cultivated flax. The use of this wild, perennial plant is archaeologically proven for the Neolithic period in Europe. Common flax ( Linum usitatissimum), an annual plant, has a delicate stalk with oblong, sessile leaves, and reaches a height of 60-90 cm. The stalks form the raw material from which the most important spinning material, after wool, can be extracted. The valuable fibre…


(590 words)

Author(s): Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] (Textilien). Unter Färben (βάπτειν, tinguere) versteht man das Eintauchen des zu färbenden Materials in ein Farbbad (βάμμα). Die dadurch entstehende Färbung ist das Ergebnis einer chemisch-physikalischen Verbindung zwischen der molekularen Struktur der Textilien und der Färbemittel. Die F. (βαφική, tinctura) war in der Ant. hochentwickelt, wie die erh. originalen Stoffreste zeigen, die nicht nur in handwerklicher und künstlerischer Hinsicht, sondern auch wegen der Frische und der Leuchtkraft ihrer Farben immer wieder B…


(867 words)

Author(s): Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] Silk is the finest and most valuable natural fibre in Antiquity; like wool, silk is an animal product and is obtained from ready-made threads. The basis is a fine thread spun by moths of the Bombycidae family. The silkworm moth, Bombyx mori, indigenous to China, is considered to be its most important member. The larvae, which are about 2-3 mm long, are fed exclusively on fresh leaves of the mulberry tree. After moulting several times the larvae begin to produce a secretion from a pair of glands through openings on their lower lips;  this immediately solidifies in the air, becoming a silk thread which they use to spin a cocoon; after a few days the finished cocoon consists of a thread up to 4,000 m long. The technical knowledge of …

Textiles, production of

(2,346 words)

Author(s): Nissen, Hans Jörg (Berlin) | Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] I. The Ancient Orient and Egypt Weaving, which presumably developed from the plaiting of mats and baskets, is probably one of the oldest craft technologies. Owing to the climate, textiles do not survive in most of the countries of the Middle East; thus we have only a few, mostly carbonized, remains to show that different styles of weaving were already known, and various materials (Wool, Linen, flax) used, in the Neolithic Period. Great numbers of spindle whorls, mostly of fired clay, an…


(243 words)

Author(s): Pekridou-Gorecki, Anastasia (Frankfurt/Main)
[German version] The German word Baumwolle (= tree wool) is analogous to the Greek nomenclature ἔριον ἀπὸ ξύλου, ἐριόξυλον. Cotton is the soft seed hairs of cultivated species of the genus Gossypium (the cotton plant) in the mallow family (Malvaceae). The cotton plant, usually an annual shrub, can reach a height of up to 2 m, which is why ancient authors sometimes spoke of it as a tree. A walnut-sized, capsule-like fruit develops from the flower and in the autumn soft, white seed hairs, the actual cotton, emerge from it. The ripe capsules were harvested and then dried. Herodotes (3,106) cla…