Predynastic textiles from Egypt: a reassessment

Jana Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle


The Predynastic period in Egypt has yielded significant quantities of textile materials from burial grounds and settlement sites. The majority of these sites were excavated during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but despite the good conditions for preservation afforded by the shallow pit graves in the hot, dry desert environment, the textile remains were generally inadequately stored and recorded. Current textile research at Predynastic sites at Abydos and Hierakonpolis in the 1999-2000 excavation season is reported. All of the fibres from the two sites have been positively identified as flax. The early technique of z2S twisted yarns appears at Abydos (albeit in one sample only) c.3600 BC, whilst a change in technology is evident at the settlement at Hierakonpolis at approx. the same time. Certainly, by c.3500 BC, there is no evidence of the old spinning techniques in the cemetery. Additional information extracted from these small, brittle fragments of linen with the help of the microscope is providing new insight into the origins of the complex burial customs centred on rebirth, resurrection and sustenance in the afterlife in the earliest stages of ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Specialist publicationArchaeological Textiles Newsletter
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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