Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 2-1 (May 2010)Chrystel R. Brandenburgh: Early medieval textile remains from settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of textile production
2 Research question, data and methods

2.1 Research question

The main purpose of this article is to consider textile production in its social context. How and where were textiles and clothes made and by whom? Was cloth production already specialized and related to an extensive trade network or was it a craft that mainly took place at the household level?

To do so, it is necessary to reconstruct how textiles and clothes were made. It may be possible to identify indications for production other than for domestic consumption in Early Medieval society by the assessment of the degree of specialization in textile production.

There are several approaches to a contextual study of textile production. First, it is possible to study textile products with a view to understanding how the cloth was made. Second, one can ascertain the degree of specialisation needed to produce the textiles and the way these textiles would have been valued by the people using them. Third is the study of the tools used to produce textiles, their development and distribution within a settlement, which may point to locations where different parts of the production process took place. A comparison between different settlements might even give information about the relative importance of textile production at these sites. Lastly, an evaluation of the access to the raw materials for textile production, like wool and dyestuffs, and indications for overproduction may give a view on the role of a settlement in the textile trade. This type of information may be acquired with a landscape-centred approach where well-documented bone spectra from different sites are available. The focus of this article is however, the textiles themselves.