السبت، 8 أكتوبر 2011

Ancient Egyptian Textile Workshops

Pharaonic Egypt was famous throughout the ancient world for the production of linen. From very early times the Egyptians were proficient spinners and weavers. Some of the market scenes found in tombs of the Old Kingdom show the selling of linen.

The owner of the fabric, usually an old man with a bald forehead, sits on a stool carrying a fan on his left shoulder and holding the upper end of the roll of linen. A vendor's assistant shows the buyer the linen fabric, which falls on the ground and ends there in a roll. The buyer examines the textile quality or measures the desired length.

It is clear from both texts and depictions that the vast majority of those involved in the production of cloth were women. Women never seem to be in charge of its production, however, as all the major titles relating to cloth production belonged to men.

There was also a difference in which gender used which type of loom. Women were always shown using the horizontal loom, while most of the weavers depicted using the vertical loom were men.

The new vertical loom possibly had more prestige or perhaps was heavier and required more strength to operate. A variety of sources describe four basic types of weaving workshops in Ancient Egypt. The study of domestic architecture has revealed details of the production of textiles within both small and large housing units.

Numerous hand spindles mixed in with roofing material, for example, have been found at the Middle Kingdom site of El-Lahun. Similar finds of spindles in roofing material were excavated at the New Kingdom site of the workmen's village at Tell el-Amarna. Evidence also exists for weaving within large housing units. For example, traces of a loom and weaving materials were found at a house in the main city at Tell el-Amarna.

Several sources state that large estates and palaces in Ancient Egypt usually contained various workshops, including spinning and weaving studios, to provide the household with necessary items. The evidence would suggest that within such studios, tens of people, usually women, were involved in the production of cloth.

In royal palaces, these women were often the numerous wives of the pharaoh. Along with their children and servants, they were housed in harem palaces in remote areas, such as that at Abu Ghurab.

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