Women and the Production of Ceremonial Textiles: A Reevaluation of Ceramic Textile Tools in Etrusco-Italic Sanctuaries

Cippus from Chiusi depicting seated females and cloth.
Cippus from Chiusi depicting seated females and cloth.

Ceremonial textiles in the ancient Mediterranean are well attested in literature and visual representations but are often difficult to document because of the limited preservation of the textiles themselves. Several depictions of textile production in elite contexts from pre-Roman Italy, as well as the common occurrence of textile tools in assemblages of prestige grave goods, have traditionally been used to illustrate the social significance of textile skills for Etrusco-Italic women. Less attention has been directed to the actual practice of such skills in ritual or social ceremonies. This study brings forth new evidence from the numerous tools for spinning and weaving found in Etrusco-Italic sanctuaries to elucidate the relationships between textiles, women, and the sacred sphere.

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