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.