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Excerpt from Looms and Textiles of the Copts: First Millennium Egyptian Textiles in the Carl Austin Rietz Collection of the California Academy of SciencesThe Weavers Art is an ancient one, its history rooted in the remote past. Tracing the path ofMoreExcerpt from Looms and Textiles of the Copts: First Millennium Egyptian Textiles in the Carl Austin Rietz Collection of the California Academy of SciencesThe Weavers Art is an ancient one, its history rooted in the remote past. Tracing the path of this history from its distant beginnings is a difficu Uundertaking, largely because textile materials are highly perishable. There are long gaps in the record. The conditions that prevail at most archaeological sites do not favor the preservation of textiles in their original form. Rare indeed are the special situations needed to protect textiles from complete destruction- dry caves, watertight tombs, or a region without significant rainfall. Because of textile preservation problems, some phases of the history of weaving must be recovered almost entirely by means of secondary sources, principally depictions in art, and tools - bobbins, needles, spindle whorls, bone awls, and the like. Even here there are problems because many weaving tools were made of perishable materials as well.Egyptian textile technology is better documented than most. The climate, geography, and burial customs of Egypt have favored the preservation of textiles. Fragments have been found that could have been woven as early as the fourth millennium B.C. (Brunton and Caton-Thompson 1928).Many have been found in dynastic burials, either as mummy wrappings or as grave goods. Though not every period is represented equally well, the surviving textiles are sufficiently plentiful to offer historians a nearly unique opportunity to study a large group of technically related textiles, woven at different dates, which can be understood to form a more or less connected series. Among the most recent of the surviving specimens of cloth in this series are those labeled Coptic. Most of these are thought to derive from burials that, luckily, had been placed well above local water tables and far enough away from the Nile to have remained unaffected by this rivers annual flooding. At least 20,000 textiles - a few whole, the majority fragmentary - are estimated to exist in public and private collections (Lewis 1969:71). Some authorities claim the number of extant Coptic textiles to be even greater, closer to 100,000 (Gervers 1977). Examples can be found in virtually every major collection of textiles as well as in many lesser ones (Lubell 1976-1977).The particular specimens belonging to the Coptic textile corpus that are the focus of attention here were collected by Carl Austin Rietz, presumably purchased during a trip to Egypt in the late 1920 s.Details concerning their acquisition are unknown. All specimens are fragments, representing a total of 72 textiles. Optical microscope examination of fibers from the textiles revealed that 25 of the textiles are wool with wool ornamentation, 46 of them are linen with wool or wool and linen ornamentation, and 1 is silk. They range in date from approximately the late third or early fourth century to the eleventh or twelfth century.About the PublisherForgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.comThis book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully- any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.