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A Landscape of Ancestors: The Heuneburg Archaeological Project

Textile Images - Tumulus 17

Although bone was not preserved in Tumulus 17, the acidic soil conditions in the mound did preserve textile fragments and other organic remains in cases where such material was in contact with metal. A number of small fragments of sheet bronze, presumably the remnants of one or more shattered vessels or other objects, were recovered in the disturbed area of the looter's trench; some of these had organic material adhering to them. While most of these remnants are textiles, grass or reed matting seems also to be represented.

Textiles and organic remains are known from other late Hallstatt mounds. The most relevant parallels are from the Hochdorf burial and from the Hohmichele mound, especially Hohmichele Grave VI, only 200 meters away from Tumulus 17. The materials available to Iron Age people for textile production during this period include wool, flax (linen), and hemp. It is likely that all of these are represented in the samples recovered from Tumulus 17, since several grades of fineness are present and the techniques used to produce the different materials seem to be quite varied. A specialist will need to examine these samples closely in order to ensure that the report on the organic material is as complete and definitive as possible.

The images below represent screen captures acquired via a microscope digital imaging system at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Thanks are due to UW-Milwaukee Museum Studies Teaching Assistant Jamie Kelly for producing the mounts for the samples and taking the first set of microscope images, and to Head Conservator Chris Delre for providing advice, materials and access to Jamie's time while the images and mounts were being produced.

Sample 1: 7x 1a   Sample 1: 90x 1b
Sample 1: Two views of a part of a textile fragment shown at 7x (1a) and 90x (1b) magnification (a single strand).

Sample 2: 7x 2a

  Sample 2: 32x 2b
Sample 2: 90x 2c
Sample 2: Three views of part of a textile fragment together with isolated strands of a second textile found adhering to the same piece of sheet bronze. The first two views are at 7x (2a) and 32x (2b) magnification. The large whitish-green strand visible under the brownish open-weave material at 32x magnification is also shown at 90x (2c) magnification; the green color is due to contact with bronze.

Sample 3: 7x
Sample 3: This textile fragment is shown at 7x magnification. It represents the finest weave of any of the textile samples, and is probably linen.

Sample 4: 7x 4a

  Sample 4: 20x 4b
Sample 4: 32x 4c

  Sample 4: 40x 4d
Sample 4: 40x 4e   Sample 4: 50x 4f
Sample 4: This textile fragment is a complex piece. Image 4a shows the woven surface at 7x magnification, with a progressively closer focus in images 4b (20x), 4c (32x), and 4d (40x). Image 4e shows a portion of the back side of the same piece shown in 4a, at 50x magnification, with image 4f showing the organic material on the backside of this textile at 40x magnification. Clearly the back of this piece is not textile. It may represent textile-covered stuffing or filling made of grass, straw, reeds or other plant material, possibly a pillow. Again, parallels with the Hochdorf burial provide a precedent here.

Sample 5: 7x 5a

  Sample 5: 20x 5b
Sample 5: 20x 5c   Sample 5: 90x 5d
Sample 5: This sample is another example of woven reed, straw or grass, again adhering to a sheet bronze fragment. The linear internal structure of the material is clearly visible. 5a is at 7x magnification, 5b at 20x, 5c at 20x, and 5d at 90x magnification.

Sample 6: 7x 6a

  Sample 6: 7x 6b
Sample 6: 12x 6c   Sample 6: 25x 6d
Sample 6: 32x 6e   Sample 6: 63x 6f
Sample 6: Several views of the same sample are shown here. 6a shows one portion of Sample 6 at 7x magnification; 6b shows another portion, also at 7x magnification. 6c shows the same area as in 6b at 12x magnification, while 6d moves even closer in on the same area at 25x magnification. 6e and 6f are extreme close-up views of the area shown in 6a at 32x and 63x magnification, respectively.

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© 2000 Bettina Arnold, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Design: Homer Hruby, Last Updated: February 2, 2002