Centre for Textile Research


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in Maria Mossakowska-Gaubert, ed., Egyptian Textiles and Their Production: ‘Word’ and ‘Object’ (Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods) (Lincoln, NE: Zea Books, 2020).

doi 10.32873/unl.dc.zea.1083


Copyright © 2020 Anne Kwaspen


Tunics of the 1st millennium AD can be classified into two main groups according to the direction of the warp in the finished tunic. The first group of tunics has horizontal warp threads in the finished tunic. This means that the cloth as it is worn is rotated 90° from the weave direction on the loom. In the second group of tunics the warp runs vertically in the finished tunic. Each group of tunics has their typical technological features and finishing methods, with additional distinctions between wool and linen tunics. This article focuses on the study of a tunic belonging to the first group with horizontal warp and all technical features that are discussed below are related to this type only. In addition, tunics can be subdivided depending on whether they have sleeves. Within the group of tunics with horizontal warp, numerous tunics with woven-on sleeves are in museum collections, but sleeveless tunics are unusual. Most of these sleeveless tunics are made of wool and are small children’s tunics. Even though they are represented on mosaics and paintings, only a few wool tunics for adults are known from excavation reports or museum collections. The Louvre Museum has in its collection one colourful sleeveless wool tunic (AF 12249), which, according the dimensions (height = 112 cm and 117 cm with fringes, width = 89/93cm, circumference neck opening = 58 cm, arm opening = +/- 32 cm, distance shoulder line-waist tuck = 56 cm), is clearly for an adult (fig. 1). Although very fragile, this tunic has not yet undergone conservation treatment, so the weave is not yet fixed on a support fabric. It was therefore possible to analyse details of both the inside and outside of the tunic.