20th century Romanian traditional folk costume

Working Group 4 – The Fabric of Society


Objectives: To explore the economic and agricultural impact of textile production and use. To explore the economic and agricultural basis for textile crops and textile trade by tracing textile trade patterns and paths through Europe and through time. To map textile resource areas (water, dyestuffs, cultivation, pasture, cheap but skilled labour) and how they have shifted through time, as well as emerging textile technology regions, which branded their products and created specialised and standardised textile products.

Themes: The first textile crops were cultivated from the beginnings of agriculture (9,000 BCE). The exploitation of wool began because of the domestication and selective breeding of livestock. The first textiles were made of vegetal fibres, such as flax, but there is a significant gap in our knowledge concerning the role of textile crops (dye plants, flax, hemp, cotton) within the agricultural regimes of edible crops in ancient Europe. In Roman times, textile trade was widely attested within and beyond the provinces, it fuelled new markets, and military campaigns shaped the trade relations. Medieval and Early Modern sources inform of trade networks and agents and the textile geography of Europe in terms of production centres and trade routes. European elites use textiles in their architecture as manifestations of power and transportable means of political rhetoric, as tapestries and banners.

Early Modern Europe witnessed high specialisation in textile luxury production protected by mercantilism and agricultural specialisation in flax and hemp for sails (eastern Europe), dye plants (woad and madder in e.g. Thüringen, Provence) and sheep wool (Netherlands, UK). These highly specialised and wealthy areas became vulnerable and challenged each time innovations emerged, e.g., cotton and indigo, yet textile production was long a significant source of wealth. Agents of textile trade, trade networks and theories of trade can be approached from Mesopotamian, Byzantine, Arabic, the Medieval and Early Modern sources.

Major questions are: Q1: What is the interaction between agriculture, herding and textile production in different periods and places? Q2: How can we quantify and qualify textile consumption of a population, and how can we quantify and qualify textile production and trade in past economies? Q3: How was (Early) Modern Europe shaped by textile production? Q4: How did Europe affect the rest of the world through textile trade and colonies, and vice versa?


Working Group
Francesco Meo

Working Group
Irina Petroviciu

Working Group
Alexandra Attia

Country Name Affiliation
AL Ilir Aliaj Mediterranean University, Tirana
AT Elisabeth Trinkl University of Graz
AT Karina Grömer Natural History Museum, Wien
CH Alexandra Attia University of Fribourg
DE Angela Huang Research Centre for Hanse and Baltic History/ European Hansemuseum Lübeck
DE Berit Hildebrandt Leibniz Universität Hannover
EE Kerttu Palginõmm Art Museum of Estonia
EL Christina Margariti Directorate of Conservation/Hellenic Ministry of Culture
EL Stamatia (Tina) Boloti Academy of Athens, Research Centre for Antiquity
IS Meghan Anne Korten University of Iceland
IT Francesco Meo University of Salento, Lecce
IT Francesca Scotti Cattolica University of Milan
IT Gabriella Longhitano University of Catania
IT Maria Emanuela Alberti University of Florence
MK Liljana Kovachovska National Museum of Macedonia
PL Joanna Słomska-Bolonek Center for Research on Ancient Technologies, Lodz
PL Katarzyna Żebrowska University of Warsaw
PT Francisco B. Gomes UNIARQ; School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon
PT Joana Sequeira Lab2PT/INT2PAST, University of Minho
PT Paula Nabais NOVA University of Lisbon
PT Ana Catarina Basílio University of Algarve
PT Daniel Van Calker UNIARQ – Centre for Archaeology of the University of Lisbon
PT António Carlos Valera ICArHEB – Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour
PT Frederico Agosto University of Lisbon
PT Andrea Martins University of Lisbon
PT César Neves UNIARQ – Centre for Archaeology of the University of Lisbon
PT Ana Claro NOVA University of Lisbon
PT Vanessa Otero NOVA University of Lisbon
PT Luís Mendonça de Carvalho NOVA University of Lisbon
PT Nuno Belino University of Beira Interior
PT Adelaide Clemente CE3C, University of Lisbon
PT Carmo Serrano National Institute of Agrarian and Veterinarian Research
PT Ana Manhita HERCULES Laboratory – University of Évora
PT Cristina Barrocas Dias HERCULES Laboratory – University of Évora
PT Teresa Ferreira HERCULES Laboratory – University of Évora
RO Irina Petroviciu National Museum of Romanian History
RO Adrian Balasescu Institute of Archaeology “Vasile Pârvan”
RO Ana Ursescu Independent researcher
RO Eugenia Nagoda University of Bucharest
RO Florica Matau Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi
RO Iulia Teodorescu Valahia University of Târgoviste
RO Liviu Mihail Iancu The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization of Bucharest
RO Mihaela Golea Institute of Archaeology “Vasile Pârvan”
RO Silvana Vasilca Horia Hulubei National Institute
RS Jasmina S. Ciric University of Belgrade
SE Serena Sabatini University of Gothenburg
UK Sandy Black University of the Arts London



International Conference “Textile Production, Consumption and Trade in Iron Age Europe”

Between the 19th and the 20th of May, Muro Leccese (IT) will host an international conference on "Textile Production, Consumption and Trade in Iron Age Europe" organised by EuroWeb's Working Group 4. Programme now available!

EuroWeb Digital Conference “From the Household to the Factory”

Working Group 4 hosts an interdisciplinary online conference focusing on the comparison of the scales, contexts and modes of organization of textile production across time, from Prehistory to the Pre-Industrial Period.
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Pre-modern Textile Markets: Integrating Existing Data

International Conference (Date to be Announced)