At the Crossroads of Textile Cultures: Textile Production and Use at the South Italian Archaic Site of Ripacandida


  • Margarita Gleba University of Cambridge
  • Christian Heitz University of Innsbruck
  • Hedvig Landenius Enegren University of Copenhagen
  • Francesco Meo Università del Salento



Archaic southern Italy, Italic–Greek interaction, loom weight, Ripacandida, spindle whorl, textile


Textiles are seldom included within socioeconomic interpretative frameworks of the ancient northern Mediterranean region, although several recent studies have begun to address this lacuna. The Archaic/ Classical site of Ripacandida (Basilicata), located in the southern Apennines, has yielded both textiles and textile tools, providing an unprecedented opportunity to examine textile production and use at an indigenous south Italian site. This study presents the results of the complementary analyses of mineralised textile remains and textile tools (spindle whorls and loom weights) found in the cemetery of Ripacandida. The unusual combination of the Greek textile weave (weft-faced tabby) and a characteristic Italic tablet-woven border in two fragments attests to a mixed textile culture. The (to date) unique situation at Ripacandida enables us to reflect on the role of textiles in cultural contact contexts: the way in which textile cultures and their elements met and were mixed or kept separate in south Italy and beyond; the extent to which textile production was socially and economically embedded in a small indigenous community of south Italy; and the role of textiles and textile production as an expression of indigenous-Greek interaction.

Author Biographies

Margarita Gleba, University of Cambridge

Margarita Gleba is currently ERC Principal Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK. She was previously a research project manager at the Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Marie Curie Fellow at University College London, UK. Her research interests include the archaeology of the pre- and protohistoric Mediterranean and Near East. She specialises in textile archaeology, including scientific analytical methods of fibre and textile investigation.

Christian Heitz, University of Innsbruck

Christian Heitz is currently affiliated with the Institut für Archäologien, University of Innsbruck, Austria, as Senior Assistant Professor. He has conducted research on Aegean Bronze Age archaeology as well as on Roman Art and Italian Iron Age contexts. He is currently director of the excavations at Ascoli Satriano, Puglia, focusing on the Archaic contexts.

Hedvig Landenius Enegren, University of Copenhagen

Hedvig Landenius Enegren is a researcher affiliated with the Centre for Textile Research (CTR), University of Copenhagen, Denmark, where she was a Marie Curie Fellow 2012-2014. Her research spans topics from Aegean Late Bronze Age epigraphy (Linear B) and eastern Mediterranean epigraphy of the first millennium bc (Cypriot Syllabic) to ancient textiles and textile tool technology in central and southern Italy, Sicily and Cyprus. She is currently conducting research on the textile tools from the Swedish Institute in Rome excavations at the Etruscan sites of Acquarossa and San Giovenale, Italy and select textile remains on Bronze Age metal finds in the Cyprus Museum, Nicosia.

Francesco Meo, Università del Salento

Francesco Meo is currently a Researcher and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Cultural Heritage, University of Salento, Italy. He is the Scientific Director of the Muro Leccese Archaeological Project, a Messapian indigenous settlement in the Puglia region of south Italy. His research focuses on the study of textile production in south Italy between the Iron Age and the Roman Empire and on the changes of Messapian indigenous society between the Iron Age and the arrival of the Romans in the third century bc.


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How to Cite

Gleba, M., Heitz, C., Enegren, H. L., & Meo, F. (2018). At the Crossroads of Textile Cultures: Textile Production and Use at the South Italian Archaic Site of Ripacandida. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 31(1), 27–51.




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