Friday, 27 September 2013

What is the most important thing?

I have been invited to give a one-hour lecture about archaeological textiles (soon, oh-so-soon), and I have all the freedom you can imagine in choosing the focus topic. Which is nice... but also not helping, as there are so many things that are important, or can be seen as important, or are so closely interconnected to each other that one could talk hours about them.

So the question I've been asking myself is: What is most important? What is the thing to tell people (students with no prior knowledge about archaeological textiles) about the world of textile archaeology? What does one really need to know, even if one knows nothing else at all about medieval or historic textiles?

If you had to pick one single thing as the most important message about textiles and textile production in history and archaeology - what would that be?

Your input would be very, very welcome while I go on to wrack my brains. (With coffee support. I think I need coffee now.)


Anonymous said...

I sooo feel you pain. I´ve been asked to do almost the same thing. Just restricted to medieval times. And I got 100 minutes. Got no solution yet, but pleeeease if you do find one - let me know.

Cathy Raymond said...

The most important thing is how limited the evidence we have for medieval textiles really is. People who know nothing about archaeology often ask questions about medieval clothing and textiles as though the field were an open book and one could just look up the answer somewhere. Most people have no idea what a jigsaw puzzle it can be to ascertain the simplest facts, and how much work is involved of all types--digging, preserving, scientific analysis of context and appearance of surviving fragments, experiments. I think it would be a real service to help with no knowledge of the field to understand that.

a stitch in time said...

Thanks for your input! Since "how scarce textile finds are" was one of the top suggestions, I will make sure to emphasise this. I have also decided to talk about the many connections of textile to other areas of research - craft studies, gender studies, economy, ...