Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


768 textile fragments were discovered at a cave near Jericho, Israel. They display a remarkable variety of materials (silk, cotton, linen, wool and goat-hair) and techniques suggesting their diverse geographical origins. Most significant are the silk fragments made in various techniques, some of them requiring sophisticated looms, and a large group of textiles with S-spun linen warps and Z-spun cotton wefts which is unique to the site. Most of these fragments were parts of clothing (e.g. trousers, tunics, coifs). Others could be recognized as bags, wrappers and strips for tying. Why was such a large quantity of used textiles stored in the cave? It can be assumed that the people who stored them there were rag collectors or merchants who collected them for the paper industry which was introduced by the Arabs from China through Central Asia in the eighth century CE and became popular in the region using mainly textiles as its raw material. Because of the unrest due to the frequent fighting between the local population and the various conquerors who invaded the area in the tenth-thirteen centuries, they couldn't return back to the cave to take the textiles with them. This political situation enabled us to discover these finds at the cave.