Sensible Dress: the Sight, Sound, Smell and Touch of Late Ertebølle Mesolithic Cloth Types

Susanna Harris
2014 Cambridge Archaeological Journal  
The aim of this paper is to investigate the sight, sound, smell and touch of different clothtypes in the Late Ertebølle of southern Scandinavia and to argue that such an approach provides stimulating new insights into an area of material culture that has previously been studied by archaeologists in a highly empirical manner. The archaeological evidence drawn together in this paper points to this as a time when furs and skin products were of prime importance and plant fibres were the basis for
more » ... ere the basis for knotted nets, looped cloth and basketry. In the archaeological literature these cloth-types are usually treated separately and described according to the species of raw materials, such as pine marten fur, or the technology of their production, such as couched button hole stitch. Using an experiment where participants are asked to handle modern cloth-types and answer structured questionnaires, it is possible to create a sensory description of these cloth-types. These descriptive results are then used to reconsider aspects of cloth and clothing in the Late Ertebølle of southern Scandinavia. By moving from the standard technological description to a sensory description, the Mesolithic cloth types investigated in this paper are placed within a sensory and phenomenological theoretical framework. The presentation of these results seeks to provide a new description of these materials and allow archaeologists to revaluate theculturally embedded nature of cloth and clothing at that time.
doi:10.1017/s0959774314000031 fatcat:2dtti4bfxbh5nii6b3g6ruoxje