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Title: Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms
Author: Roth, H. Ling (Henry Ling), 1855-1925
Language: English
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                Ancient Egyptian and
                     Greek Looms

                    H. LING ROTH


                     APRIL 1913


Halifax, which is situated in the heart of the great textile trade of
Lancashire and Yorkshire, has been a home of the woollen manufacture
since the earliest time, and it is only meet, therefore, that its
museum should possess specimens of the tools used in the early days of
spinning, weaving, and cloth making generally. In spite of the
considerable progress made towards that end, many typical specimens
are still wanting, and, while we have plenty of material for the study
of weaving in various parts of the world, we are lacking in everything
relating to the industry in Ancient Egypt and Greece. Failing
specimens I have had recourse to illustrations, but the Egyptian ones
published by Cailliaud, Rosellini, Sir J. G. Wilkinson and Lepsius,
contradict each other in many important points, so that those who
study them find them practically useless for an understanding of the
art as carried on in the Nile lands. Fortunately, last year, Mr. N. de
G. Davies, the well-known Egyptologist, hearing of my difficulty, very
generously placed some of his copies of tomb drawings at my disposal,
and with this invaluable help I have been enabled to complete the
present paper, and to lay before Halifax students some new details of
manufacture bearing upon their staple industry.

                                                  H. Ling Roth.

  Bankfield Museum, Halifax.
  April 1913.



In the tomb of Chnem-hotep, at Beni Hasan, there is a wall painting of
a horizontal loom with two weavers, women, squatting on either side,
and at the right in the background is drawn the figure of the
taskmaster. There are also figures represented in the act of spinning,
etc. For the present we are concerned with the weaving only.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from the
illustration in Cailliaud's _Recherches_, etc. Same size as

Of this illustration, there appear to be six reproductions. We have
first of all, Fig. 1, that of Fred. Cailliaud (_Recherches sur les
Arts et Métiers_, etc., Paris, 1831) with illustrations of drawings
made by himself in the years 1819 to 1822. His publication was
followed by Fig. 2, that of Sir J. G. Wilkinson (_Manners and
Customs_, etc., London, 1837). Mr. John Murray, whose house has
published Wilkinson's work from the first edition to the last, informs
me that a few of the drawings were made by George Scharf, afterwards
Sir George Scharf, Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery, but that
most of them seem to have been made by Joseph Bonomi, the well known
Egyptologist. Wilkinson's woodcut, although clearly and neatly done,
is on a very small scale; nevertheless it admits of a fair comparison
with those reproduced on a larger scale.


    Figs. 1 & 3. Weaving.

    Fig. 2. Loom.

     "   3. Putting in the woof, but not
            by a shuttle thrown with
            the hand.

     "   4. Male Overseer.

     "   5. Hackling.

     "   6. Twisting the double threads
            for the warp.

    _a_ Weaving.
    _b_ Chief of Loom.
    _c_ Facing.
    _d_ Pulling out.

Fig. 2.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from Sir J. G.
Wilkinson's _Manners and Customs_, London, John Murray, 1878, Vol. I.,
p. 317. Same size as published.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from the
illustration in Rosellini's _Monumenti_ (Monumenti Civili), Plate XLI.
Reduced one-fifth lineal of size published.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from
Lepsius' _Denkmäler_. Same size as published.]

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep, from
Prof. Percy Newberry's _Beni Hasan_, I. Plate 29. Same size as

After him, Fig. 3, N. F. J. B. Rosellini began the publication of his
great work (_I Monumenti dell' Egitto_, Pisa, 1832-1844). The
similarity between the comparatively few drawings published by
Cailliaud and the very large number published by Rosellini is very
great. It is of course quite possible Rosellini may have made use of
some of Cailliaud's drawings. Five years after Rosellini's publication
came that of C. R. Lepsius (_Denkmäler_, Leipzig, 1849), Fig. 4, his
drawings having been made in the years 1842 to 1845. Since the time of
Lepsius until quite recent years I can trace no further copying until
we get the illustration, Fig. 5, in Prof. Percy Newberry's _Beni
Hasan_, London, 1910. In this work the reproduction is about one
twentieth of the original, or about three fifths of the size of that
of Wilkinson, and unfortunately so crude as not to be available for
our present purpose.[B] Lastly we have the reproduction, Fig. 6, from
Mr. N. de Garis Davies' drawing made in 1903, and now first published
by kind permission of Mr. F. Ll. Griffith.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Horizontal Loom, Tomb of Chnem-hotep. Size of
original: Height of the figures 9-1/4" = 24·4 cm. Drawn by Mr. N. de
G. Davies, and now published for the first time by permission of Mr.
F. Ll. Griffith.]

In the various reproductions by the above explorers, the only three
which agree very closely are those of Cailliaud, Rosellini and Davies.
The others vary considerably and in essentials do not agree with the
above nor with one another. The differences may in the first instance
be due to difficulties in copying the original in the tomb. Others may
be due to ignorance of detail on the part of the secondary
copyist--the man who prepared them for publication--so that he was
unable to follow up the clues on the drawings laid before him. The
differences may also be due to careless copying and to "touching up"
of the copies when made; they may be slightly due to deterioration and
obliteration of the original in the course of time.

The _Encyclopædia Biblica_ gives a variant from all six illustrations,
but approaching nearest to that of Cailliaud, Rosellini and Davies. It
is misleading in so far that the drawing has been made to suit
Professor Kennedy's idea as to what it should be.

Some of the differences are of minor importance, but a comparison will
help materially to our understanding of the method of weaving adopted
by the Egyptians from the XIIth to the XIXth Dynasties, or about B.C.
2000 to 1200. To go into details, and taking Mr. N. de G. Davies'
illustration as our basis, we find slight differences in the shape of
the pegs B, B1, which are immaterial. A more pronounced difference is
seen in the way in which the threads are attached to the warp beam A.
Neither Wilkinson nor Lepsius carry these threads over the beam, the
former carrying them only as far as the laze threads C, while the
latter carries them up to a line drawn parallel to and below the beam;
Cailliaud and Rosellini carry them over the beam while Mr. Davies
carries them half way only. The object of this half carrying over is
not clear. The threads in chain-form at C are probably laze threads,
apparently placed there so that in case of any disarrangement of the
warp threads the weaver can from that point run her fingers along them
and get them disentangled. It has been suggested to me that this
chain-form might be a tension chain for taking up slack warp, but the
former explanation seems the more likely.

All the drawings but Wilkinson's show the warp threads converging
towards the breast beam; Wilkinson shows them parallel and in Lepsius
their convergence is excessive. There should be a slight convergence
shown, as in the course of weaving the threads get drawn in, and in
later forms of looms in semi-civilised countries we find an endeavour
to counteract this tendency by the use of a tool known as a "temple."

The cross sticks D1, D2, look like laze rods. It may not be out of
place here to point out that in primitive weaving laze rods serve two
purposes, or one more than in the later somewhat more advanced looms.
They serve throughout to keep the warp threads in place, and they
serve to separate the odd threads from the even (1, 3, 5, 7 from 2, 4,
6, 8, &c.), and in so doing take the place of the fingers in making
the "shed," _i.e._, the opening through which the "weft (or woof)" is
passed, a function which in turn is usurped by the "heald (or
heddle)." The heddle therefore becomes a very important factor, and
Dr. H. G. Harrison by no means overstates the case when he says that
the development of the heddle is the most important step in the
evolution of the loom (Horniman Museum Handbooks, No. 10, pp. 47-49).
We may now return to the drawing. Wilkinson shows the rod D1
indistinctly and the left hand end only of D2. Lepsius' artist seems
to have taken a liberty with D1 but in the right direction, by making
it more definitely into an early form of heddle--the loop and rod--but
he shows D2 the same as Cailliaud and Rosellini. Prof. Kennedy argues
that these rods are in the wrong position and that D1 which is a
heddle should be in the place of D2. Mr. Davies' drawing as well as
those of Cailliaud and Rosellini show that D1 is a heddle while D2 is
shown to be a laze rod. Asiatic primitive looms, like those from
Borneo and Bhutan, have two laze rods but no heddle; on the other hand
many primitive African looms have one laze rod and one heddle as is
the case with this Egyptian loom. More threads are shown on the left
hand end of D2 than on the right hand end. Mr. Davies informs me that
the same quantity should be shown from end to end across the warp, but
on the right hand side they are so indistinct that he was just able to
detect but not to trace them and so he omitted them.

We now come to the rod E. Cailliaud and Rosellini show an undulation
at the one end _a_, but do not make the other end clear. Wilkinson
shows a small hook at the end _a_, which appears to me to be a
transcriber's development of the curved end of his two predecessors;
in the text Wilkinson says there is a hook at each end of this stick,
but he does not show any at the end opposite to _a_; he refers to
these hooks more than once (1st ed., III., p. 126 footnote). Lepsius
has altered the shape of the curve and transferred it from the end _a_
to the opposite end. In Mr. de G. Davies' drawing, it has been
inserted in dotted lines, as the original is in such a state that
tracing is almost impossible. Wilkinson, Erman, v. Cohausen (_Das
Spinnen u. Weben bei den Alten_, in _Ann. Ver. Nassau. Altherthumsk._,
Wiesbaden, 1879, p. 29), and others call it a shuttle, but I am more
inclined to consider it a slashing stick ("sword" or "beater-in") for
pushing the weft into position. A tool which appears to be a beater-in
and of similar end shape is seen held in the hand of a woman on a
wall painting at El Bersheh--see Fig. 11, top right-hand corner. We
have in another illustration, Fig. 7, an article which appears to be a
spool, which I think confirms the view that E is not the shuttle but
the beater-in. In all the illustrations, too, the pose of the hands of
the women bearing on this stick is indicative of a downward pressure
and not of a grasp.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Tomb of the Vizier Daga. Date about end XI.
Dynasty, B.C. 2000. Mr. N. de G. Davies' _Five Theban Tombs_, Plate

The upper illustration indicates a woman warping or beaming, probably

In the lower illustration note the left hand figure holding the spool
in her hand. At first sight this small black line looks like a
continuation of the "beater-in" in the hands of the other weaver, but
Mr. Davies informs me that it is quite a distinct article, and that
there can be no doubt about it. Just above the breast beam there are 8
or 9 threads of weft but they are too faint to be included.]

The selvedge F on the one side of the cloth and not on both sides is
also interesting from the fact that selvedges do not appear on the
Egyptian cloths until the XVIII. Dynasty _circa_ B.C. 1600.

The breast beam:--It appears to me that the three portions marked G1,
G2 and G3 joined up are intended to represent the breast beam and its
holding pegs, similar to the warp beam A and its pegs B1, B2, but the
portion K is not clearly drawn in any of the reproductions. Wilkinson
omits this altogether, but in its place has two black pieces which
also are still less clear. Lepsius has omitted G2 altogether and
appears to have made G1 and K and G3 into treadles, by raising G1
above the level of G3, and to support the view that these are
treadles, he makes use of the overseer's foot by placing it on the
supposed treadle, and the casual observer thinks it is the foot of the
woman weaver. However, Mr. Davies' copy seems to offer a solution. He
agrees with Cailliaud and Rosellini in so far as G1, G2 and G3 are
concerned. With him K takes quite a different form, in fact it looks
very similar to an article which an attendant woman in another panel
has close by her, see Fig. 8. It might perhaps be a rest to prevent
the beater-in being driven home too forcibly--this, however, is still
only a surmise--as the length of the beater-in makes it heavy at the
far end.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--Weaver with the support K, Fig. 6; the woman
appears to hold a beater-in in the right hand and a ball of thread in
the left hand. Rosellini.]

In Cailliaud the warp threads are coloured in pale blue and red on top
of the black lines of the drawing; he has painted the selvedge and
finished cloth a pale blue, as well as that portion of G2 which is
covered by the cloth indicating that this is the breast beam, G3 and
G1 are painted a dark red. Rosellini colours A, B1, B2, D1, D2, G3
orange; G1 and K dark red, but E from end to end light ochre. This
shows that K is distinct from E.

[Illustration: Fig. 9.

Upright or Vertical Looms from the Tomb of Thot-nefer at Thebes, XVIII
Dynasty, _circa_ B.C. 1425. From a drawing by Mr. N. de G. Davies. Size
of original: Height from Base Line to top of frame at A, 11-1/2" = 29

In consequence of this loom being represented as upright it is often
spoken of as an upright or vertical loom. But it is drawn upright
because the Egyptian artist did not understand perspective, and it was
only by making the loom upright that he was enabled to show the
details we have just been examining. For the same reason mat making is
illustrated edgeways. If the loom were an upright one the two women
weavers would have had their backs turned towards the onlooker as can
be seen in Fig. 9. Any doubt on the matter has however been set aside
by Prof. John Garstang's extremely interesting discovery of a wooden
model depicting a group of women spinning and weaving which he
illustrates in his work, _The Burial Customs of Ancient Egypt_,
London, 1907. After referring to the woman spinning, he continues:
"The other seated figures apparently represent women at work upon a
horizontal loom; the frame and the woof [_sic_, should be _warp_]
threads are faintly represented upon the board. It is possible that
they are making mats or, perhaps, weaving (p. 132)." He gives an
illustration of the group taken from a photograph, but as it does not
show the lines which indicate the loom lying horizontally on the
ground nor the warp threads, I have asked him to let me have a drawing
made of it and, with his kind permission, it is now reproduced here,
Fig. 10. The threads of the warp and the finished piece of cloth at
the breast beam end are clearly indicated. The whole model supports
conclusively the well founded supposition that the loom we have been
considering is a _horizontal_ one. Curiously enough, Prof. Garstang
does not appear to appreciate the important bearing of his discovery,
for on a later page (p. 134) in speaking of Lepsius' illustration,
discussed above, he says: "the weavers are seen at work at an upright

[Illustration: Fig. 10.--Horizontal Loom. Outline sketch by Miss Davey
of the original model of a group of one woman spinning and two women
weaving, found by Dr. John Garstang at Beni Hasan. The model is in the
Museum of the Liverpool Institute of Archæology.]

It must not be thought that the Beni Hasan representation is the only
one which illustrates a horizontal loom. A second one is reproduced by
Prof. Percy Newberry from the tomb of Tehuti-hetep _circa_ 1938-1849
B.C., see Fig. 11. In the upper portion the women are seen spinning
and preparing the thread generally, while in the lower portion two
women on the left are warping, and in the centre three apparently are
"beaming," _i.e._ putting the warp on to the beams preparatory to
commencing to weave, the warp threads being apparently drawn over pegs
to ensure the proper tension. This illustration shows the warp flat
against the wall like the mat making shown at Beni Hasan.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.--Tomb of Tehuti-hetep. Date about 1939-1849
B.C. From Professor Percy Newberry's _El Bersheh_ I. Pl. 26.

Note the woman on the top right hand corner holding a "beater-in."]

A third representation of a horizontal loom is reproduced from the
forthcoming volume of the Egypt Exploration Fund by kind permission of
Mr. N. de G. Davies, who made the copy. In this, Fig. 7, already
referred to, the lower portion is all that has come down to us. The
cloth is not shown contracted as in the Beni Hasan representation, the
two laze rods are drawn close to each other and here also an attempt
appears to have been made to show the over and under lapping warp
threads; the laze rods appear each with a hook, the hook on the upper
rod turned upwards and the hook (if it be one) on the lower rod turned
downwards. It is possible these hooks may be pegs to prevent the
shifting of the laze rods. It may be that one of the two rods is a
heddle rod the indication being the fine double lines, but this may
not be compatible with the hook at the end of the rod. The weaver on
the left holds a spool in her hand, evidently a piece of stick with
the weft thread wound round it, which she is pushing through with her
fingers. The weaver on the right holds a beater-in as shown in the
Beni Hasan drawing. The breast beam is held in position by two pegs
near the right one of which there is a curved article of indeterminate

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Study of a Bedawin Arab weaving, from a
sketch taken in the Forties of last Century, by Frank Goodall, R.A.
The original sketch is in Bankfield Museum. The weaver appears to be
provided with one heddle and a beater-in.]

There is no very clear evidence as to how the finished cloth was
"taken up" unless we accept it that the bulging out of the part G2
means that it was wound round the breast beam as is done on hand and
power looms of the present day. Some very long pieces of cloth have
come down to us and unless they were "taken up" in this way a long
stretch of ground would have been necessary. A modified form of this
horizontal loom has been met with in recent years among the Bedawin
Arabs, as shown in the illustration of a study sketch, Fig. 12, made
by Frank Goodall, R.A., in the forties of last century. The loom was
provided with pegs like the old Egyptian loom but it was supplied with
a primitive heddle resting on a stone at each side of the warp and it
would appear that the weaver, to a certain extent, did not take up the
woven cloth by winding it round the breast beam and by that means
retaining his position, but, as the weaving progressed and the line of
finished cloth got beyond his reach, he crept up to it and so got
farther and farther away from the breast beam until in the end he
arrived at the warp beam. Similar looms are still used for mat making
by the Egyptian fellah.


[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Upright or vertical loom. Wilkinson's
_Ancient Egyptians_, London, John Murray. 1st ed., Vol. III., p. 135.]

Apart from the horizontal loom Wilkinson and Robert Hay[C] also
recorded the existence of an illustration of an upright loom, said in
error to be at Eileithyias (El Kab). Wilkinson's copy, Fig. 13, is
more elaborate than that of Hay. Mr. Davies informs me that the
original is not at Eileithyias, but in the tomb of Nefer-hotep at
Thebes. Wilkinson in regard to this illustration quotes the
oft-repeated statement of Herodotus (_circa_ 460-455 B.C.) in
reference to looms in general:--"Other nations make cloth by pushing
the woof upwards, the Egyptians on the contrary, press it down." On
this statement Wilkinson remarks: "This is confirmed by the paintings
which represent the process of making cloth; but at Thebes, a man who
is engaged in making a piece of cloth with a coloured border or
selvedge, appears to push the woof upwards, the cloth being fixed
above him, to the upper part of the frame" [Fig. 13]. But I am unable
to follow Wilkinson in this, for I can find no indication in his
illustration which shows how the beating-in of the weft is
accomplished. From the illustration all one can say is that it might
have been done either way. Wilkinson's illustration is lettered from
_a_ to _p_ but this lettering is not explained by him at all,
excepting in the case of the letter _k_, of which he says: "_k_ is a
shuttle, not thrown, but put in with the hand. It had a hook at the
end ..." and he proceeds to refer to the drawing elsewhere of the
horizontal loom. He does not show the hooks in his illustration. In
Fig. 14, I give the sketch made by Mr. N. de G. Davies of the remains
of the original from which Wilkinson made his illustration.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Drawing by Mr. N. de G. Davies, Jan. 1913, of
an Upright Loom in Tomb 49 at Thebes, belonging to Nefer-hotep, at end
of XVIII. Dynasty, B.C. 1330. Drawn when in a better state by
Wilkinson, Fig. 13, and Hay.]

A more satisfactory drawing of upright looms is that which Mr. N. de
G. Davies has placed at my disposal for reproduction here. I append
his description, Fig. 9. "The picture of men working at two looms is
taken from the tomb of Thot-nefer at Thebes, who was a royal scribe
in the middle of the 18th Dynasty, _circa_ 1425 B.C. In his tomb his
house is shown. He himself sits in the hall, while inside some
servants spin and weave, make bread, store the grain, etc. The roof of
the chambers is supported on pillars, and between two of these the
looms are set up which are here depicted. They are not attached
however, either to the roof or the pillars. Faint sketching lines are
mixed up with the darker reds in which the picture was re-drawn, and
the whole very simply and carelessly executed. I have found it
difficult to make it clear. In my sketch the first faint sketching
outlines appear as lines. The more solid red lines which replaced
these I have 'hatched,' and certain portions including the men's flesh
colour, the stools, the discs I have put in solid black, partly
because they are for the most part more solid and dark red in the
original, and partly to distinguish the portions more clearly from one
another. The horizontal lines which cross the web are very faintly
drawn and almost as good as obliterated by the white paint which had
been put on the web. I have put them in just to show that the bars
were _conceived_ of as passing behind or under the web and concealed
by it.

"The larger loom is worked by two men, the smaller by one man only.
The looms consist of an oblong frame A set up on two stones B. The
warp is attached to the warp beam C on top and the breast beam D at
the bottom. The threads of the warp are not shown, no difference being
made between any woven part and the warp threads; to all is given one
smear of white paint. Two discs E are seen hanging against the frame
posts, one on each side, the earlier sketch showing a larger disc than
the final drawing in dark red.

"Two slender laze rods F are shown on the large loom and heavy bars G,
H, lower down; a somewhat similar laze rod and beams are also shown on
the smaller loom.

"The weavers sit on benches with their backs to the spectator. The
artist has not dared to draw a back view of their heads, but has
turned each man's head to the right to show a profile. They are
holding a heavy looking rod which looks like a 'beater-in.' One would
expect to see a shuttle but perhaps this was too small an object for
so rough a picture--perhaps the man at the smaller loom holds an
exaggerated shuttle L in his right hand.

"The lines M seen alongside the framework are the faint red sketch
lines _not_ cords. The diagonal line N on the left I do not
understand, it does not seem an accidental one.

"On the left hand of the two looms the original shows a man spinning
coarse thread into finer(?) using two spindles at once; the threads
pass through rings fixed in the ceiling as in a picture at Beni Hasan.
Behind him two girls are breaking up the flax and two others are
making coarse threads of the fibres, almost exactly like those in the
tomb of Daga (No. 103) a couple of hundred yards away."

To this description of Mr. Davies I would like to add a word about
the discs E. Wilkinson indicates these as rings apparently joining the
horizontal beam to the post of the frame, the form of the ring being
arrived at as explained by Mr. Davies by the original outline of the
sketch having been made larger than the final drawing of the circle,
or disc, and not obliterated. In Mr. Davies' drawing these discs hang
on or are fixed on to the uprights only, and I am inclined to think
they represent balls of weft thread hanging up in the same way as we
see whole rows of coloured balls hanging on the looms of Persian
rugmakers, and as can be seen on an Indian rug loom in Bankfield

It is also very clear that these Egyptian vertical looms are very
different from the Greek looms in so far as we know anything about
them. The Greek looms had an upper beam only and the warp threads were
bunched at the lower end and weighted with metal or clay balls to keep
them taut, Fig. 15. The _individual_ warp threads were not weighted;
they were bunched and then weighted. The pyramidal shaped clay warp
weights found in Egypt are I understand considered by Egyptologists to
belong to the Roman period, but in the Manchester University Museum
there is a mud article which Miss M. A. Murray describes as a warp
weight, Fig. 17, so that it is possible vertical looms with warp
weights may yet be forthcoming as an Egyptian and not a foreign
industrial tool. But Dr. H. R. Hall informs me this weight was
probably found in the ruins of houses where Ægean pottery was found
and hence it is probably a temporary warp weight of those people and
not an Egyptian article.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--Greek loom with spool and warp weights.
Illustration on a skyphos (van Branteghem vase in the Ashmolean
Museum, Oxford). From H. B. Walters' paper on _Odysseus & Kirke_ on a
Boeotian vase, Jour. Hellenic Studies, 1892-3 XIII. p. 81.]

Since writing the above Mr. N. de G. Davies has very kindly sent me on
a new set of illustrations, Fig. 16, of which he says; "My attention
was called to the scene by Dr. Alan Gardiner. The scenes which
represent the preparation of the flax and the stretching of the warp
are almost replicas of those in the tomb of Daga of the Middle
Kingdom, so far as we can judge, while the pictures of the looms
resemble closely those in the tombs of Thot-nefer and Nefer-hotep. The
work is done by both men and women. Men prepare the flax while women
stretch the warp. Men mostly work the loom, either singly or with a
companion. But in one case a woman is seen at work at one of the
upright looms. She is shewn sitting sideways on the low bench and is
not pictured in a back view with widely spread legs like the men.
Unfortunately the work is so slovenly and so much injured that few
exact outlines can be secured, and hence all detail is insecure.
There are also superfluous lines in red colour which confuse the
picture. The tomb is Ramesside in date (_circa_ 1200 B.C.) The
inscription over the seated man is too broken to be read."

[Illustration: Fig. 16a.--Weavers at work as represented in the Tomb
of Nefer-ronpet, Superintendent of Weavers at Thebes. Date about 1200
B.C. From a drawing by Mr. N. de G. Davies.]

[Illustration: Fig. 16b.--Weavers at work as represented in the Tomb
of Nefer-ronpet, Superintendent of Weavers at Thebes. Date about 1200
B.C. From a drawing by Mr. N. de G. Davies.]

The drawings appear to confirm generally what we have gathered from
Mr. Davies' previous illustration, Fig. 9.


In so far as I know, not many loom parts have yet been discovered, and
those which I have had an opportunity of studying do not assist us to
much knowledge beyond that which we have gained by a study of the wall
paintings. We have the article from Kahun already mentioned, which may
possibly be a warp weight, as it somewhat resembles the later warp
weights found elsewhere. It is of hardened mud with a perforation at
the thin end through which a piece of string has been passed and
knotted (Fig. 17), but so far no illustration of a loom with weights
has been found, either for the period to which this article belongs or
to any other period. On the other hand the material is not suitable
for a net-sinker, nor is it intended to be made to stand up. As
mentioned above it is probably Ægean.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Piece of perforated hardened mud. Possibly a
warp weight, 10 cm. × 8·7 × 4·2 (3-15/16 in. × 2-7/16 in. × 1-5/8 in.)
Weight 470 gramms (1 lb. 1/2 oz.) Probably of Ægean origin. _Kahun._
Manchester Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Burnt-clay warp weight. Height 11·4 cm. (4-1/4
in.) Weight 260 gramms (9-1/4 oz.) Probably Roman. Bankfield Museum.
(Received from Prof. Flinders Petrie).]

Another form of warp weight, of burnt clay, is somewhat frequently met
with, Fig. 18, but it is described as appertaining to Roman times, and
may therefore be either a Greek or Roman article. Similar weights from
Cyprus and North Africa, &c., can be seen in the British Museum.

Wooden pegs have been found at Gurob, which may possibly have been
used for holding the warp and breast beams in position, Fig. 19. These
pegs may appear to be rather short for the purpose, but in very
primitive looms the warp is not kept so taut as might and should be,
and hence there is not the same heavy strain on the pegs as we should
deem necessary. The way to settle their use would be to fix them in
solid ground and test them.

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Wooden Peg, possibly used for holding the
warp and breast beams. Length 13·5 to 10·2 cm. (5-13/16 in. to 4 in.)
_Gurob_ XVIII.-XIX. Dyn. (about 1580-1205 B.C.) Manchester Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Long straight lath with notches at each end,
probably a laze rod. Length 1 m. 24 (4 ft. 13/16 in.) Breadth 5·2 cm. (2
in.) Thickness 2·2 cm. (7/8 in.) _Kahun._ Manchester Museum.]

[Illustration: 1/2 size section of Fig. 20.]

[Illustration: 1/2 size section of Fig. 21.]

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--Long curved lath. Probably a "beater-in."
Length 1 m. 20 (3 ft. 11-1/4 in.) Breadth 6·5 cm. (1-11/32 in.).
Thickness 1 cm. (3/8 in.) _Kahun._ XII. Dynasty about 2000-1788 B.C.
Manchester Museum.]

At Kahun a long straight lath, Fig. 20, was found which is probably a
laze rod, the notches being apparently for a nooze to slip into and so
prevent the rod working towards the weaver which it has a tendency to

Another long but curved lath, Fig. 21, also found at Kahun is probably
a beater-in.

Most large Egyptian collections contain one or more specimens of
wooden combs, which are generally called weavers combs, and ascribed
to Roman times. But one at least, Fig. 22, has been found with XVIIIth
to XIXth Dynasty articles at Gurob, that is belonging to the period
1580-1150 B.C., which is long before Rome existed. None of these
so-called combs, for they are really embryo reeds, are shown on the
wall illustrations so that they no doubt belong to a later date than
that of the XIIth Dynasty. If, as I take it, these "combs" are the
forerunners of the reed and were used to drive the weft threads home,
and if also the Romans had upright looms provided with warp weights
instead of the breast beam, then I think the "comb" may not be Roman
but may be a late Egyptian invention. For, on trying to use such a
comb on a _replica_ of a Scandinavian upright loom provided with warp
weights (instead of with the breast beam) I can get no good result, in
fact rather the opposite, but tried on a primitive horizontal loom
provided with a breast beam the comb is found to be of some
assistance, especially if the warp is not very taut as is generally
the case with primitive looms. At Bankfield we have an Indian rug
loom, already referred to, with warp and breast beam on which a
somewhat similar instrument, but of iron, was used.[D]

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Weaver's Comb--a Beater-in. 19·5 cm. × 9·8 ×
4·2 (7-3/4 in. × 3-7/8 in. × 1-5/8 in.) _Gurob._ Manchester Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 23.--Possibly a warp spacer, somewhat similar in
object to the raddle of modern hand loom weaving. Height 2·8 cm. Width
2·5 cm. (1-1/8 in. × 1 in.) The slots are 6 mm. (1/4 in.) apart, 3 mm.
(1/16 in.) wide, and about 10 mm. (3/8 in.) deep. From _Gurob_ but
probably Roman. Bankfield Museum. (Received from Prof. Flinders

An article which Prof. Flinders Petrie describes as a "warp spacer" is
shown in Fig. 23. From fragments in the Egyptian Collection,
University College, London, it would appear to have been originally
more than a meter (three feet) long. It may have been used as a sort
of a "raddle," a tool used for assisting to keep the warp threads in
position when being beamed, _i.e._ put on to the loom. At Bankfield we
have an old local hand loom the warp beam of which is provided with a
series of holes in which pegs were once inserted to keep the coloured
warp threads in position.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.

1/2 size of end of Fig. 24.

1/2 size section of Fig. 24.

A long piece of perforated wood described by Prof. Flinders Petrie,
_Kahun_, p. 29, as a Weaver's Beam for making rush mats. Length 96·8
cm. × 8·0 × 3·0 (3 ft. 1-1/4 in. × 3-1/4 in. × 1-3/16 in.) From
Manchester Museum.]

A piece of frame, Fig. 24, has been described as a "weaver's beam" for
making rush mats like the modern _hasira_. It is provided with 28
holes which are arranged about 27 to 40 mm. apart. The holes may have
been more or less circular originally, and worn into present shape by
threads, etc., and look more irregular inside than they really are, as
the inside surface of the holes is fairly smooth; the holes are
slightly larger, on an average about 4 mm., on the face shown than on
the other face. Prof. Flinders Petrie seems to think it resembles the
frame on which the modern Egyptian mat is made.

We now come to the two reeds in the Museum of the Liverpool Institute
of Archæology, which Dr. John Garstang discovered near Abu Kirkas,
tomb No. 693, of which he tells us: "They are 27 and 29 inches (68·6
and 73·7 cm.) in length respectively, and are precisely similar in
general form. They are constructed on a system of nineteen or twenty
reeds to the inch, and they may be seen to be exactly similar to the
modern reed taken from a loom in the village of Abu Kirkas. It is not
possible, unfortunately, to assign a precise date to these objects.
They were found in a tomb which contained no other remains; this tomb
was surrounded by others, all of them likewise very much disturbed,
but equally characteristic of the general nature of the Middle Empire
tombs, and containing nothing but Middle Empire objects. Since, in
general, few tombs of this site show signs of intrusive burial of a
later age, there is no reason to suppose that these objects are of any
date later than the XII. Dynasty (_The Burial Customs of Ancient
Egypt_, London, 1907, pp. 134-136)."

The horizontal looms we have been describing belong to this period,
and the artists have not shown any reeds with them. My studies of
primitive looms lead me to think that these Egyptian looms are of a
date far anterior to the invention or the application of a reed. It
has also, I believe, been remarked by those who have examined cloths
of this date, that the irregular array of the warp threads is good
proof that reeds could not have been in use. I have already pointed
out that in the evolution of the loom the reed puts in a late
appearance, but apart from this fact, I do not think the artist would
have omitted such an important tool had it been in use in his time.

[Illustration: Fig. 25.--Reed in Cairo Museum. Length 66 cm. (26 in.)
It consists of two wooden frames fitted with flat iron wires. String
is wound round the frames binding them together. Then a kind of
canvas(?) cover in placed over the frames to cover up the projecting
ends of the wires, but this has disappeared in places.]

Dr. Garstang points out that although the surrounding tombs contained
Middle Empire objects, the reeds were found in a tomb _without_ any
other remains. This can hardly be considered evidence tending to prove
that they belonged to the period named, and it is certainly weakened
by the accompanying statement that the reeds are _exactly_ similar to
the modern reed, for that is almost sufficient to prove that they are
_not_ 3900-3700 years old. To me they seem comparatively modern and
very similar to one in the Cairo Museum which MM. Brugsch and Quibell
are inclined to think is Coptic with this difference, that in Dr.
Garstang's reeds the divisions appear to be of cane or wood, while in
the Cairo reed they are of iron (?steel). The sketch of this Coptic
reed, Fig. 25, has been drawn specially for me, and Miss W. M.
Crompton, Assistant Keeper in Egyptology in the Manchester University
Museum, has kindly examined the sketch with the article and pronounced
it correct. We may, I think, safely conclude that the reed found by
Dr. Garstang is Coptic and not Ancient Egyptian.

As regards the actual work of weaving, balls of thread have been found
and so have very flat bobbins and pieces of stick with thread wound
round which may have been spools as indicated in the drawing, Fig. 7.
There is no reason why balls of thread should not have been used as
they are in uncivilised countries at the present day, as, for
instance, in Tibet, as reported by W. W. Rockhill in _Diary of a
Journey through Mongolia and Thibet_, Washington, 1894, p. 41.


I am unable to agree with a recently made statement published in _The
Labyrinth, Gerzeh and Marghuneh_, by Prof. Flinders Petrie, E. A.
Wainwright and E. Mackey, p. 6, which runs: "The fact of the weft not
being at right angles to the warp, if one may conclude by the fabrics,
does not, I think, imply that such weaving is of inferior quality.
When I noticed the peculiarity first, I thought it might have arisen
through distortion by stretching over the body, but repeated examples
of the same fact have led me to consider other causes. We know how
closely analogous to 'darning' was the early weaving; and in our days
it is not unusual to find stockings not darned at right angles, and it
may be the women weavers of old sometimes put in the weft more or less
out of true right angle. In the childhood of weaving we should expect
different methods, and it may be, seeing that we have no selvedged
cloth until very long after this time, that they experimented with a
diagonal weft to see if it would not reduce the tendency to fray out
at the sides." The amount the warp and weft are out of the right angle
is stated to be about 20°. The specimen shown me under the microscope
indicated clearly that the warp and weft were not at right angles and
that the interstices were not square but diamond shaped.

It is possible to arrange the warp threads diagonally from beam to
beam, but with continuous weft (that is in weaving so as to get
selvedges) the weft has the tendency to slip up on one side and down
on the other, hence the weaving is made laborious. With a separate
weft for each pick, _i.e._, for every once the shed is opened, there
is naturally not this tendency, but this alleged diagonally woven
cloth frays just as easily as any other piece of cloth without
selvedge, so in either case there is not only no advantage but
distinct disadvantage taking the diagonal "beaming" into
consideration. We must give the Egyptians credit for using the least
laborious of two methods, that is _if_ the second one were known to

Apparent diagonal weaving can be produced by anyone taking an ordinary
piece of linen or cotton cloth, cutting off the selvedge and
stretching the cloth in a direction diagonally to the direction of the
warp and weft, and a piece of diagonally woven cloth is the result!

The probability is that the specimen of cloth, without a selvedge,
having been stretched over the body for a long period of time, has, in
the course of that time lost its nature and when removed it has
retained its altered form and gives us the impression of having been
woven diagonally.


In the foregoing I have shown how extremely simple was the whole
apparatus for weaving in use by the Ancient Egyptians, and one is
rather surprised to be told that about B.C. 1200, in the time of
Rameses III., the Egyptians "built and used looms very much more
complicated than has hitherto been believed to be the case," or to be
referred to "the really complicated form of loom used." Yet this is
what Mr. Thorold D. Lee tells us (pp. 84 and 86) in his paper on _The
Linen Girdle of Rameses III._ (_Ann. of Archæology and Anthropology of
the Liverpool Institute of Archæology_, July, 1912, V.)

The characteristics of this girdle are its great length, 17 feet (5 m.
2), its even taper diminishing from 5 in. (12·7 cm.) in width to 1-7/8
in. (4·8 cm.) in width, its elaborate design and excellent
workmanship. Perhaps the chief of these characteristics is the taper.
It is most probable, as Mr. Lee points out, that in the weaving the
warp threads have been gradually dropped out to make the taper, rather
than that additional warp threads have been added. As it is easy to
drop a warp thread, and almost impossible to add one while weaving is
in progress, Mr. Lee's view is confirmed by this. It would also be
almost impossible to keep the warp taut if the number of warp threads
were increased as the work went on. This means that the girdle was
commenced at the wide end and finished at the narrow end.

It is common knowledge that when a warp thread drops out, its place is
indicated by a thinness or fine opening for the whole length of the
missing warp, and this is so because the reed, besides pushing the
weft into position, also acts as a warp spacer, that is to say it
keeps the warp threads properly apart, every one being properly
aligned. When no reed is used the warp threads are not so evenly
placed--they are not so parallel to one another for there is nothing
but their tautness to keep them in position. Hence there is every
reason to conclude that when, on a loom provided with a reed, warp
threads have been removed their position must be indicated, and _vice
versa_ if no reed has been used the position of the removed threads
will not be so clearly indicated, but there will be a more marked
shrinkage in the width of the cloth as well as in the pattern, and
this is what has taken place in the girdle giving us the diminishing


_Reproduced by kind permission of Dr. Clubb, Director, The Museums,

If this diminishing taper were indicated by a decrease in the width of
the pattern commencing at the selvedges, then it might be presumed
that a reed had been used for the central portion only--a very clumsy
even if feasible arrangement, but the pattern begins to decrease along
the middle and hence no reed could have been used.

It does not follow that because a loom was not provided with a reed it
was without heddles. Anyone who will examine the large series of
primitive looms at Bankfield Museum, will observe that heddles
preceded reeds; this must necessarily be so as the making of the shed
is the first step in weaving, while the reed's work is more that of a
finisher. But the heddles are all extremely primitive, and in my
experience do not exceed four in number where there is no reed. Such a
quantity of heddles with its complicated harness as Mr. Lee considers
necessary is quite out of the question with a loom so undeveloped as
not to be provided with a reed. Hence the indication is that the
girdle was woven on a loom of a primitive character.

In carrying out the work the weaver has made many mistakes. On the
left hand side of the right hand row of red crosses (they come out
black in the photograph) there is an "end down" for a considerable
distance--that is a thread has been missed.

On the same row of crosses three white threads show above and below,
while on the left hand row of crosses there are five white threads
above and below. The crosses are neither the same size nor shape in
the two columns and curiously their white hafts in both columns point
to the left instead of one row pointing to the left and the other to
the right. Then again the white point at the right apex of the zigzag
on the left corresponds to a red point at the left apex of the right
hand zigzag, but if the girdle had been woven on an advanced loom with
dobby and harness these points would have been red in both places.

As regards the large number of warp threads to the inch which Mr. Lee
puts down as 272-340 (107-134 per cm.), this does not by any means
indicate a complicated piece of machinery for the weaving of this belt
or any other fabric. The greater the number of threads to the inch the
finer must the threads be in order to get them into the allotted
space, and in the weaving there will be so many more threads to raise
and lower in order to make the shed opening. It means multiplying the
work but does not necessarily mean that a more complicated loom must
be used in the weaving.

It is not possible without opening the fabric to be quite positive on
the many points which are raised, but there seems nothing about it
which should prevent its having been made on a simple loom. Although
superior to most, but not all, of the well known Coptic cloths in
Bankfield and in many other museums, it very closely resembles some of
them in many respects excepting in the taper.

I should add that in making my examination of this girdle I was kindly
assisted by Mr. C. A. Trigg, a well known Halifax mill manager and
designer. We made the examination independently and on comparing notes
afterwards found that we agreed in all essential points.


By W. W. MIDGLEY, Curator, retired, The Museums, Bolton.

"So far back as 1834, Mummy cloths occupied the attention of James
Thompson, F.R.S., who, after researches into their characteristics and
structure wrote a paper on the subject, which appears in the London
and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine, Vol. V., page 355. From that
time until quite recently, little additional knowledge on the subject
has appeared. In the early part of 1910, Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie,
F.R.S., expressed a desire that the writer should undertake
microscopic investigation of the body-wrappings of cloths of the III.
and early IV. Dynasties (_circa_ 2980-2750 B.C.) which he had brought
home from excavations made at a cemetery near Meydum, Upper Egypt. The
report upon them forms part of the "_Historical Studies_," Vol. II.,
of the _British School of Archæology in Egypt_.

When Mr. Ling Roth suggested that some of the examples of Egyptian
Mummy cloths in Bankfield Museum should be examined on similar lines,
describing the construction of the fabrics and yarns, together with
the characteristics of the fibres used, I undertook to carry out the
work and forward to him the results for permanent reference.

Each of the fifteen cloths submitted was first examined by mounting
about 3/4" × 5/8" (20 mm. × 16 mm.) of the cloth on 3" × 1" (76 mm. ×
25 mm.) glass slips, and covering with thin glass, so as to find out
its plan of composition and the number of warp and weft threads per
linear inch. Afterwards, a little of the warp threads as well as of
the weft, was untwisted and the fibres separated, and these mounted
apart on another 3" × 1" slip (76 × 25 mm.), so that the kind of
textile fibre used and the diameter of the fibres could be measured.
These microscopical preparations will be kept in Bankfield Museum, as
they may be of interest to microscopists in the locality.

The cloths are from three sources:--Nos. 1 and 2 being from the
private collection of Dr. Wallis-Budge, who has given the specimens to
Bankfield Museum; Nos. 3 to 8 are from the old Meyer collection in the
Liverpool Museum (unfortunately the origin of them is unknown); and
those marked 9 to 15 were taken from a mummy of the XXVI. Dynasty,
brought to this country by Lord Denbigh, and now also in the Liverpool

A.--Specimens of Mummy cloths from Theban Tombs date about B.C. 1400,
presented by Dr. Wallis-Budge.

    1. A plain "one-up-and-one-down" linen cloth. The yarns
    in this example are more irregular in diameter than
    usual--the warp strands varying from 1/25"th to 1/71"st
    (1 mm. to ·2/8 mm.) The warp has about half its strands
    doubled (that is twined together), whereas the weft has
    only about one in twenty doubled. See Fig. 26.

    2. This is a coarser fabric, has been dyed with
    saffron, and is somewhat brittle to tease out the
    fibres. Both these cloths had evidently absorbed some of
    the gums or balsams used in the process of embalming,
    and hence the difficulty of separating the fibres for
    identification is increased. The structure of the fabric
    is peculiar, and, indeed, the only instance I have seen
    in Egyptian cloths. A portion, near the middle of the
    piece sent, has the warp strands in pairs parallel to
    each other, a few of them being double yarns, while all
    the remainder are doubled. Of the weft, nearly half are
    double yarns. See Fig. 27.

[Illustration: Fig. 26.--Magnified 10 diameters.]

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Magnified 10 diameters, showing the warp yarn
in pairs.]

B.--Specimens from the Meyer Collection, marked No. 11088. (Date of
acquisition about 1856; date and place of origin unknown).

    3. This is a beautifully soft, fine _Wool_ fabric,
    containing no size or balsam. From the fineness of the
    yarn and of the individual fibres I have no doubt that
    the wool has been imported from India, or, more likely,
    that the cloth was made in Cashmere. The texture is a
    plain weave, has a selvedge edge, the warp yarns are
    doubled, while the weft is single yarn. It is much to be
    regretted that the particulars of locality, of burial,
    and the period of time to which this interesting fabric
    belongs has been lost. I assume from the general
    characteristics that it is of a late period--probably
    not earlier than the Ptolemaic.

    4. This linen cloth has a plain selvedge, regular weave,
    and contains no size. About 25% of both warp and weft
    yarns are doubled, and all are very even in diameter.

    5. A coarse linen cloth with plain selvedge. All the
    yarns are single and even in diameter.

    6. This is a coarse, highly-sized linen cloth. The yarns
    are agglutinated, are brittle, and it is difficult to
    separate the fibres. The sample submitted has been cut
    from the end of the piece and shows the warp ends.

    7. A coarse linen cloth, sized and brittle. No selvedge
    on the piece sent. Both warp and weft yarns are single,
    and even in diameter.

    8. This is a very coarse linen fabric heavily sized and
    brittle. Both warp and weft yarns are single and very
    irregular in diameter.

C.--Lord Denbigh's: XXVI. Dynasty.

    9. A soft-spun linen cloth containing no size. Specimen
    has been cut from the body of the fabric, showing no
    selvedge. About half of the warp is composed of doubled
    yarns of irregular diameter; the weft is of doubled
    yarns and more regular in diameter.

    10. The selvedge of this linen fabric is peculiar and
    somewhat elaborate. The outer margin is composed of four
    sets of ten yarns parallel to each other, forming one
    strand of warp; then comes a space of 1-9/10" (48 mm.)
    where the warp yarns are dyed red; then occurs three
    more sets of ten parallel yarns (the object being to
    strengthen the selvedge), followed by the general body
    of the fabric. The entire selvedge is 2-1/4" (57 mm.)
    wide. About half the warp yarns are doubled, while all
    the weft are composed of doubled yarns, both being
    fairly even in diameter, and not sized.

    11. A fine, soft, linen cloth, with selvedge 1-1/8" (29
    mm.) wide; the three outer and the two inner strands of
    the warp are made up of many parallel yarns, as in No.
    10, with an interspace of 3/8" (10 mm.) All the warp
    yarns are dyed red, about 25% of them being doubled; the
    weft is peculiar in having five or six strands of single
    yarns alternating with six or seven double yarns, giving
    a faint stripe in the fabric.

    12. A linen cloth, with no selvedge edge. It has been
    dyed red, probably _ferum_, a dye which I find uniformly
    associated with friable or decomposing fibres.

    13. A peculiarly coloured fine linen cloth; the pattern
    is caused by some of the warp yarns being dyed, and
    occurring sometimes of four, two, or one red strands,
    with grey ones intermixed. A few of the warp yarns are
    doubled. The weft is composed of single yarns and are
    all in the grey.

    14. A coarse soft-woven linen fabric, containing no
    size. Lines are indicated at irregular distances along
    the cloth, varying from 5/16" to 9/16" (8 to 14 mm.);
    these are caused by the introduction of three strands of
    doubled yarn in the warp while the remainder are single
    yarns. The weft is all of doubled yarns; both warp and
    weft are very regular in diameter.

    15. This is a variegated linen fabric with warps
    coloured something like No. 13, but the red strands of
    warp are more irregular in distribution. Like it, a few
    of the warp yarns are doubled, both the red and the
    grey; while the weft is all of single yarns and in the

[A considerable quantity of specimens of the cloths which were woven
by the Ancient Egyptians has been examined both in this country and
abroad. I may, however, call special attention to the results of
examination published in Miss M. A. Murray's excellent little work
_The Tomb of Two Brothers_, Manchester Museum Publications, No. 68,


 Specimen|Nature |Warp |Weft ||   Micro Measurements of Ten Fibres.
    No.  |  of   |Ends |Picks|+-------------+-------------+-------------
         |Textile|per  |per  ||    Weft.    |    Warp.    |  Mean of.
         | Fibre.|inch.|inch.|+======+======+======+======+======+======
         |       |     |     || Max. | Min. | Max. | Min. | Weft.| Warp.
         |       |     |     ||  in. |  in. |  in. |  in. |  in. |  in.
 A.   { 1| Linen |  44 | 32  ||1/1400|1/3333|1/1424|1/3330|1/1768|1/1786
      { 2|   "   |  10 | 17  ||1/1786|1/3330|1/1780|1/2860|1/2020|1/1905
         |       |     |     ||      |      |      |      |      |
      { 3| Wool  | 224 | 40  ||1/833 |1/2500|1/833 |1/2000|1/1351|1/1429
      { 4| Linen |  64 | 32  ||1/1429|1/2500|1/1250|1/5000|1/1818|1/1754
      { 5|   "   |  56 | 20  ||1/1250|1/3333|1/1250|1/2500|1/1754|1/1724
 B.   { 6|   "   |  48 | 24  ||1/1250|1/2500|1/1000|1/2500|1/1640|1/1594
      { 7|   "   |  48 | 20  ||1/1111|1/2500|1/1000|1/2500|1/1408|1/1428
      { 8|   "   |  36 | 16  ||1/833 |1/3333|1/1111|1/2500|1/1456|1/1613
         |       |     |     ||      |      |      |      |      |
      { 9|   "   |  48 | 24  ||1/1666|1/3333|1/1666|1/3333|1/2222|1/1860
      {10|   "   |  32 | 60  ||1/833 |1/3333|1/908 |1/3333|1/1724|1/1613
      {11|   "   |  80 | 36  ||1/1429|1/3333|1/1000|1/3333|1/1887|1/1784
 C.   {12|   "   |  96 | 40  ||1/1111|1/2500|1/1250|1/2500|1/1724|1/1695
      {13|   "   |  80 | 36  ||1/1111|1/2500|1/1429|1/2500|1/1640|1/2040
      {14|   "   |  56 | 24  ||1/909 |1/3333|1/1250|1/2500|1/1594|1/1695
      {15|   "   |  64 | 36  ||1/1250|1/2000|1/1429|1/2500|1/1724|1/1818


         |       |        |        || Micro Measurements of Ten Fibres
 Specimen|Nature | Warp   | Weft   ||          in Millimetres.
    No.  |  of   | Ends   | Picks  |+-----------+-----------+-----------
         |Textile| per    | per    ||   Weft.   |   Warp.   | Mean of
         | Fibre.| Centim.| Centim.|+=====+=====+=====+=====+=====+=====
         |       |        |        ||Max. |Min. |Max. |Min. |Weft.|Warp.
     1   | Linen |  17    |  12·6  ||·0181|·0076|·0178|·0076|·0144|·0142
     2   |   "   |   4    |   6·7  ||·0142|·0076|·0143|·0089|·0126|·0133
     3   | Wool  |  88    |  15·6  ||·0305|·0101|·0305|·0127|·0188|·0178
     4   | Linen |  25    |  12·6  ||·0178|·0101|·0203|·0050|·0140|·0145
     5   |   "   |  22    |   7·8  ||·0203|·0076|·0203|·0101|·0145|·0147
     6   |   "   |  19    |   9·5  ||·0203|·0101|·0254|·0101|·0155|·0159
     7   |   "   |  19    |   7·8  ||·0229|·0101|·0254|·0101|·0180|·0178
     8   |   "   |  14·1  |   6·3  ||·0305|·0076|·0229|·0101|·0174|·0157
     9   |   "   |  19    |   9·5  ||·0152|·0076|·0152|·0076|·0208|·0130
    10   |   "   |  12·6  |  23·6  ||·0305|·0076|·0278|·0076|·0147|·0157
    11   |   "   |  31·5  |  14·1  ||·0178|·0076|·0254|·0076|·0135|·0142
    12   |   "   |  37·4  |  15·6  ||·0229|·0101|·0203|·0101|·0147|·0149
    13   |   "   |  19    |  14·1  ||·0229|·0101|·0178|·0101|·0155|·0124
    14   |   "   |  22    |   9·5  ||·0278|·0076|·0203|·0101|·0159|·0149
    15   |   "   |  25    |  14·1  ||·0203|·0127|·0178|·0101|·0147|·0140

It is very obvious they had no scale to work to.


[A] To the uninitiated I may explain that in a horizontal loom the
plane of the warp is more or less parallel with that of the floor,
while in an upright or vertical loom the plane of the warp is at right
angles to that of the floor.

[B] To avoid indistinctness through over reduction, I have endeavoured
to keep all reproductions in this paper as large as possible, and
think I have succeeded in not losing any detail in the necessary

[C] Hay's drawings are not published but can be seen in the Brit.
Mus., Add. MSS. No. 29823, Fol. 32.

[D] Olafsson, to be referred to later on, remarks that while in Ovid's
time the _spathe_ was used for beating-in the weft, in Seneca's time
the weft was beaten in by a toothed instrument. In other words a
weaver's comb--the embryo reed--had been introduced.


[Illustration: Fig. 28.--A Bushongo weaver at work. From Torday and
Joyce, _Notes Ethnographiques_, _Ann. du Congo_, p. 182.]

We have now to say a few words about an upright loom which differs
very materially from the Egyptian loom already described. Whether the
horizontal loom is a later product than the vertical loom, or was
evolved from it, or whether both were independent inventions cannot be
discussed here, but I may point out that there is an intermediate form
between the two. It is doubtful as to whether this is a transition
form. It was first brought to my notice by Mr. T. A. Joyce, as in use
amongst some negro peoples in Central Africa possessing an old, high
and possibly introduced civilisation, and is figured in Messrs. Torday
and Joyce's Notes _Ethnographiques ... Bakuba ... et Bushongo_
(_Annales du Congo_) pp. 24 and 182. In this loom the warp is
stretched between an upper beam and a lower beam at an angle of about
90 degrees, and the weaver sits underneath at his work, Fig. 28. It is
not at all uncommon to meet with illustrations showing the warp
stretched at an incline, and apart from the fact that in many the
weavers are posing for illustration, and therefore, are most probably
not exactly in their natural positions, the tilted arrangement has
this advantage, namely, that the work of beating-in is improved by
the fall given to the "sword" which, with less exertion by the
weaver, drives the weft home more effectively. In all these cases,
however, the weaver sits or stands in front of the loom, but in the
case of the Bushongo the loom is tilted to such an extent that the
weaver finds it more convenient to sit underneath the warp.

The discovery by Messrs. Alan Gardiner and N. de G. Davies of
illustrations of Egyptian upright looms, confirms Wilkinson in his
statement and illustration that the Egyptians had this class of loom
as well as the horizontal one. The vertical loom is found in Europe,
Asia, Africa and America, and is, probably, ethnically as old if not
older than the horizontal loom.[E] But this Egyptian upright loom
differs from another, the Greek, or Central European, or Scandinavian
form of the upright loom, in having an upper and a lower beam so that
the warp is made taut between two beams, while in the Greek loom there
is only _one_ beam. The warp hangs from this beam, the warp threads
being made taut by means of weights attached at the lower ends.

[Illustration: Fig. 29a.--Illustration on a small lekythos of an
Athenian girl at work on a tapestry loom, together with a full size
tracing of the tapestry loom. British Museum. B.C. 500.]

[Illustration: Fig. 29b.--Illustration of a Greek woman with a
tapestry loom. From Stackelberg's _Graeber der Hellenen_, pl. xxxiii.]

The Greeks were, however, acquainted with the tapestry loom, for there
exists in the British Museum a small lekythos with an illustration,
Fig. 29a, of such an article resting on the knees of a lady weaver.[F]

[Illustration: Fig. 30.--Greek woman at work on a loom. From C. Robert
Ἐφ ἀρχ 1892, pl. xiii., p. 247. It is not possible to say from
this illustration whether this is a warp weighted loom or not.]

[Illustration: Fig. 31.--Penelope at her loom. Illustration on an
Athenian skyphos found in an Etruscan tomb at Chiusi, and at present
in the museum there. The illustration is taken from _Monumenti d.
Inst. Archeologico_, IX., pl. xlii.]

It has been described by Mr. H. B. Walters in _Jour. Hellenic
Studies_, XXXI., 1911, p. 15, who says: "In front of her, Fig. 29a, is
a white wool basket (_Kalathos_) and on her lap is a frame somewhat in
the form of a lyre, being formed by two upright pieces with knobs at
the top, diverging slightly towards the top, across between which are
stretched two threads at the top and two at the bottom, seven vertical
threads being also visible. Her hands are placed on the threads, which
she is engaged in manipulating. This object can only be intended for a
hand loom, though there is apparently no evidence for the use of such
objects in ancient times or among Oriental races either in the past or
the present day. The only other parallel to the representation on this
vase is one published by Stackelberg, Fig. 29b, where a woman holds a
similar frame and is similarly occupied with her hands. The writers of
the articles _Sticken_ in Baumeister and _Phrygium Opus_ in Daremberg
and Saglio, misled by the likeness of the object to the modern
crewel-frame, interpret the process as embroidery. But this kind of
work implies cloth or other textile substance already woven, on which
patterns are worked in, whereas in both vase paintings the textile is
obviously in course of construction." He is right in so far as he
goes, but both representations are those of _tapestry_ looms which
fact is indicated by the warp threads in both cases, and by the design
marked on the warp threads of Fig. 29b--a method of preparing their
work in use to this day by tapestry weavers. Some authorities consider
that tapestry weaving is more closely related to mat making than to
true weaving. In other words, I take it tapestry is an early stage in
the development of weaving. From this we get some idea as to how far
the Greeks had progressed in the textile arts.

As pointed out by MM. Daremberg and Saglio, _Dic. des Antiquités
Grecques et Romaines_ pt. 46, p. 164, "illustrations of Greek or Roman
methods of weaving are very rare, they are much reduced and in so far
as the art is concerned purely diagrammatic." On the other hand if
there are numerous references in the texts of classic authors, these
references seem rather to obscure than elucidate the method of
working. However, there are three illustrations--the Penelope loom,
Fig. 31, and two Boeotian looms, one of which is illustrated in Fig.
15--quite sufficient to explain the principle of the upright loom as
used with warp weights by the Greeks, and the discovery of numerous
articles, considered to be the warp weights, confirm the illustration.

The principle is the same throughout, viz.: the looms are vertical,
there is a warp beam on top, there are two cross rods one of which is
a laze rod and _possibly_ the other is a heddle; and the warp threads
are all kept taut by means of attached weights. On one of the Boeotian
looms a bobbin or spool is shown. Along the top of Penelope's loom
there are indications of nine pegs, on six of which balls of coloured
thread have been placed, evidently for working out the designs, very
much the same as shown on the rug loom in Bankfield Museum already
referred to. The warp weights on this Athenian illustration are
triangular in shape, and perhaps resemble the pyramidic weights found
in Egypt and attributed to Roman times. Assuming these pyramids are
Roman warp weights it would appear that both Greeks and Romans had
vertical looms on which the warp threads were kept taut by means of
weights. In one of the few clearly expressed technical classical
references, Seneca speaks of the warp threads stretched by hanging

In the above classical illustrations which are after all only rough
diagrams, the warp weights appear to hang from a _single_ thread only,
but this can not have been correct. The warp threads must have been
bunched, because a single suspended thread with a tension weight
immediately begins to unravel, and so loses the advantage of its
having been spun, as any one can ascertain for oneself. As regards the
same point on the Lake Dwellers looms, Cohausen was the first to
surmise that the warp threads were bunched to receive the weight, and
Messikommer proved it by practical experiment.[G]

As can be surmised with this class of loom the weaving begins at the
_top_, working _down_wards, and the beating-in of the weft is
_up_wards--the exact opposite to the method adopted with other
looms--for the pendant warp ends, although weighted to keep them taut,
do not appear to have been further fixed in position, so that to
commence weaving at the lower end made the operation so extremely
difficult as to be almost impossible.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.--Illustration of a Scandinavian warp weighted
loom in the Copenhagen Museum. The illustration is taken from
Montelius' _Civilisation of Sweden in Heathen Times_, translated by
the Rev. F. H. Woods, London, Macmillan & Co., 1888, p. 160.

[In the illustration of this loom published by the Trustees of the
British Museum, in their _Guide to the Antiquities of the Early Iron
Age_, London, 1905, p. 139, the shape of the warp weights has been
altered to suit the shape of such weights in the British Museum

[Illustration: Fig. 33.--Icelandic Loom after Olafsson.

_a a_ Beam on which the warp is fixed. _b b_ Weights to make the warp
taut. _c c_ Brackets which support the beam and on which it can be
revolved by means of the spoke _e_ when the warp has to be lengthened,
on account of the weft _f_ working downwards and so shortening the
finished portion of the woven cloth. _g_ A sharp bone or tough piece
of wood to beat the weft into proper position. _h_ The wound up weft
which is pushed through the warp with the fingers. _i i_ The unbeamed
warp. _k k_ The heddles or shed openers. _l l_ The supports on which
the heddles rest when the "pick" is made [_i.e._, the pushing the weft
through]. _m_ The beater-in. _n_ and _o_ Laze rods. _q_ The template
for regulating the width of the cloth. _r r_ and _s s_ Beam on to
which the loom is fixed.

Some of the descriptions are not as clear as could be wished. It is
probable that _g_ is a preliminary to _m_. N. Annandale mentions that
he obtained in the Faroes a beater-in made of a whale's jaw or rib;
while in Iceland he saw some of the perforated stones to which the
warp threads were attached (_The Faroes and Iceland_, Oxford, 1905,
pp. 195-6).]

The Scandinavian form of the "Greek" loom from the Faroes Fig. 32, is
made known to us through the article itself in the Copenhagen Museum,
illustrated by Montelius, _Civilisation of Sweden in Heathen Times_,
Lond. 1888, p. 160, and through the very clear illustration and
description given us by Olafsson in his _Oeconomische Reise durch
Island_, 1787, translated from the Danish edition of 1780. The loom
figured by Olafsson, Fig. 33, shows an advance on that of Montelius,
in being provided with heddles.[H] Upright looms with a lower beam
instead of with warp weights and furnished with heddles, are not
uncommon. There are the well known Indian and Persian rug looms, and
Du Chaillu figures one in his _Journey to Ashango Land_, London, 1867,
plate facing p. 291. Randall-Maciver and Wilkin illustrate a vertical
loom in use among the Kabyles, _Libyan Notes_, London, 1901, Pl. IX.,
and although the details of the illustration are not clear the text
indicates the existence of one heddle: "The warp is decussated by
means of a horizontal rod and leashes." Dr. Washington Mathews figures
several Navajo looms with heddles, _Third Ann. Rep. Bureau of
Ethnology_, p. 291; Ancient Peruvians also used them, as shown by Dr.
Max Schmidt, _Baessler Archiv, I. pt. 1_, and so on practically _ad.
lib._ But to work an upright warp-weighted loom with heddles is
attended with great practical inconvenience, and this difficulty has,
no doubt, been one of the chief causes of the complete discardance of
this class of loom.

In spite of the evidence in favour of the existence of warp weighted
looms, the Director of the Hermannstadt Museum, Dr. v.
Kimakovicz-Winnicki, sees fit to deny their existence. He found that
in some parts of Transylvania the peasants use wooden pyramids (see
Fig. 18) similar to the Roman warp weights for winding the thread
from the spindle on to the shuttle. For this purpose sockets are
bored into the thin or top end of two pyramids, which are placed
just so far apart that a spindle can rest horizontally with one end
in the socket of one pyramid, and the other end of the spindle in
the socket of the other pyramid, and the thread in being wound off
on to the shuttle causes the spindle to revolve in the sockets. From
this he argues that what we have hitherto taken to be warp weights
are not warp weights at all (_Spinn-u. Webewerkzeuge_, Wuerzburg,
1911), and having denied these articles to be warp weights he gets
over the difficulty presented by the illustration of Penelope at her
loom, by attempting to prove that what we take to be a loom is no
loom at all but a _flechtrahm_, _i.e._ plaiting frame! He then
attempts to pull to pieces the idea that the Scandinavian loom in
the Copenhagen Museum is a loom and condemns it as unworkable. There
can be no doubt about his meaning as he defines his terms. The
principle of weaving (_Weben_) he describes "as the absorption of
two groups of parallel material elements (warp and weft) at right
angles to each other, and the principle of plaiting (_Flechten_) as
the absorption by itself in one plane of one group only of material
element, (warp)" and he gives diagrammatic illustrations showing
clearly what he means (_op. cit._ p. 31).[I] Judging from his
remarks one must conclude he has not seen a primitive loom of any
sort, and were it not for the official position he holds, his
remarks would not need answering.

It has, I believe, been suggested more than once that some of the
perforated stones, pieces of burnt clay, pieces of chalk and like
objects may be and are net-sinkers, and there is some justification
for Dr. Kimakovicz-Winnicki's statement that the pyramidic forms are
not warp weights; but it does not follow that all the perforated
articles are either spindle-holders or net-sinkers, yet that is what
his subsequent statements lead one to infer. It is, however, difficult
to prove that these perforated articles are warp weights.

[Illustration: Fig. 34.--Side view and section of chalk warp weight
found at Great Driffield. Of three of the weights the following
dimensions were taken:

    7-3/4" (19·7 cm.) long,   2 lbs. 3 oz. (1·0 k)
    6"     (15·2  " )   "     1 lb.  8 oz. (0·7 k)
    6-3/8" (16·2  " )   "     1 lb.  3 oz. (0·6 k)

Hull Museum.]

[Illustration: Fig. 35.--"Chalk weight, 6" × 4" × 2" (15·2 cm. × 10·2
× 5·1), similar to those found in pits, at Mount Caburn and Cissbury
near Worthing, Sussex. Found with eighteen more in the _filling_ of
pit 7, Winkelbury Hill." _Excavations in Winkelbury Camp_, by
Lieut.-Gen. Pitt-Rivers (_Excavations in Cranbourne Chase_, Vol. II.,
1888). As Pitt-Rivers also found at Winkelbury the fragment of a comb
and a chalk spindle whorl, which are textile tools, we may safely
presume these fashioned pieces of chalk are warp weights.]

In 1875 several flat irregular oblong perforated pieces of soft chalk
were found in enlarging the cattle market in Great Driffield,
Yorkshire; they were found in a hole about three feet deep with
Anglo-Saxon potsherds, animal remains, and bits of iron. They can now
be seen in the Mortimer Collection in the Hull Museum. They consist of
pieces of chalk, similar to those which drop annually in thousands
upon thousands down the cliffs from the boulder clay between
Bridlington and Flamborough. On some a shoulder has been cut, Fig. 34,
most have one perforation, but in a few specimens, where the thin
portion above the hole has been broken off, a second hole has been
made. None of them can stand unsupported. Owing to the soluble nature
of the chalk they could not have been used as net-sinkers in the sea
(about nine miles off) for they would quickly dissolve in salt water,
and the same holds good in regard to fresh water, although in a lesser
degree. But I do not think they were used even in fresh water as
net-sinkers, for it was a characteristic of primitive peoples, with
whom time was of no account, to do their work thoroughly--what they
made was intended to last, and chalk net-sinkers would not have
lasted. That these were found in a limited quantity, I believe about
seventeen in number, tends to show that they are warp weights, for
only a few are required for every loom, in spite of the considerable
number shown in the non-technical illustration of Penelope's loom. Not
being able to find any other use for these pieces of chalk, and
judging that they are suitable for the purpose, I should say they are
warp weights. In this case the weaver has made the most of what nature
has given him; in other parts of England he has had to fashion the
weight out of the rough chalk, Fig. 35.

In the Museum at Devizes there are several hard pieces of perforated
and fashioned chalk which offer more conclusive evidence. Of these
Mrs. M. E. Cunnington, the Curator, writes me: "All the weights here
have holes bored right through. Two large ones stand easily on the
floor. Others are more irregular in form and will not stand upright.
This latter type is, as far as I am aware, the more usual in this part
of the country. They are commonly cut out of the hard chalk, and weigh
about 3 or 4 lbs. (1·5-2 Kilos). We think these weights are loom
weights because we find them with Romano-British remains, as at
Westbury, and late Celtic remains on our chalk uplands, far from water
where fishing could have been carried on. With the same remains we
find weaving combs, numerous spindle whorls and other tools of bone
that were also probably used in weaving operations." The Westbury, in
Wiltshire, referred to, is some thirty miles in a straight line from
the mouth of the Severn, and about forty miles from the English
Channel. These pieces of chalk cannot therefore have been used as
net-sinkers, leaving out of consideration their composition; they were
found with weaving tools and they fit the position. So far the
ingenuity of our ablest archæologists at home and abroad has not
succeeded in ascribing the use of these objects to anything else than
net-sinking or warp tension. The adaptability of the articles for use
as warp weights, the small groups in which they are found, the
discovery of weaving implements in the closest proximity, our
knowledge of the Greek representations of warp-weighted looms, the
Olafsson illustration, and the loom in the Copenhagen Museum all tend
to prove that these articles are really warp weights.

As regards the practical possibility or impossibility of working a
"Greek" loom, I had a simple frame made in the Museum and showed Mr.
J. Smith, a mill "Overlooker" at Messrs. Wayman and Sons, Ld.,
Halifax, the illustration in Montelius' book already referred to, and
asked him to weave me a small piece of cloth on it. In the course of a
few hours he did the warping, beaming and weaving, making the pick
with his fingers and using a ball of weft thread instead of a spool or
shuttle. The result is shown in the accompanying illustration, Fig.
36, conclusively proving that weaving on such a frame is quite
feasible, and practically proving that Olafsson's and the Copenhagen
warp weighted looms are properly constructed workable looms.

[Illustration: Fig. 36.--A warp weighted loom made at Bankfield
Museum, to show the possibility of weaving by this method. There is no
heddle nor shuttle used. The weaver made the "shed" and pushed the
weft through with his fingers. He naturally worked _down_wards.]

[Illustration: Fig. 37.--Diagram to show how the warp is kept taut on
a Syrian loom.]

Finally, it may not be out of place here to point out that there are
other looms, besides the Greek and Scandinavian, on which the warp is
made taut by means of warp weights. The Rev. Dr. Harvey Porter, of the
American College, Beyrout, Syria, writing about the year 1901, thus
describes the common loom of the country. He says: "Two upright posts
are fixed in the ground, which hold the roller to which the threads of
the warp are fastened, and upon which the cloth is wound as it is
woven. The threads of the warp are carried upward towards the ceiling
at the other end of the room, and pass over rollers, and are gathered
in hanks and weighted to keep them taut (_Dic. of the Bible_,
Edinburgh, 1902, IV., p. 901)." He has kindly sent me an illustration
of this loom, but unfortunately the weights are not clearly shown, and
the same is the case with an illustration of a loom from Cyprus.[J]
The diagram, Fig. 37, shows the principle. In a Shan loom illustrated
by Mrs. Leslie Milne, in _The Shans at Home_, London, 1910, p. 120,
the warp makes a somewhat similar detour over the head of the weaver,
it is, however, not weighted but tied to a beam. The point to be
observed is that these warp-weighted looms are horizontal and not
perpendicular, and also that the weaving is the reverse of that on the
Greek loom but similar to that on our horizontal looms, so that the
present Syrian and Cyprian looms have nothing in common with the old
Greek loom.

[Illustration: Fig. 38.--Hand of Penelope clutching her shuttle. From
a corner of a piece of sculpture discovered by O. Kern and described
by C. Robert, (_The Feet Washing of Odysseus_, fifth Century B.C.,
_Mitt. Kais. Deutsch. Arch. Inst._, Athens, XXV., 1900, pp. 332-3).
The author considers Penelope to be in the act of unravelling what she
has woven: "We see her holding the spool with her right hand, while
the left hand, half closed, is raised to about shoulder high, and the
fingers, if I read the traces correctly, are posed as though she held
a thread."]

The Greeks evidently used a spool in weaving, that is a piece of stick
round which was wound the thread that became the weft, as is shown in
the hand of Penelope, Fig. 38, and in Kirke's loom, Fig. 15.


[E] I find frequent references, by various writers, to an upright loom
mentioned by E. H. Palmer as used by a Bedawin woman near Jebel Musa,
but on looking up his description (_The Desert of the Exodus_, I. p.
125), I find it to be so indifferent as to be quite useless for
purposes of comparison.

[F] My attention to this was kindly drawn by Mr. F. N. Pryce,
Assistant in the Dept. of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

[G] The existence of warp weighted looms amongst the prehistoric Lake
Dwellers of Switzerland was first surmised by Pauer (_Keller's Lake
Dwellings_) from the discovery of the weights, and was made
practically certain by Messikommer and Jentsch.

[H] Comparing the loom Olafsson saw with the description in the Nial
Saga, he concludes this sort of loom was in use A.D. 1014, in the
North of Scotland.

[I] He criticises the detail of the illustration of Penelope's loom.
It must be remembered this illustration is not a technical drawing,
but an artist's representation where correctness of detail cannot be
expected. In his own drawing of the Egyptian horizontal loom many of
the warp threads are shown over instead of under the laze rods, and
yet this is supposed to be a correct technical drawing!

[J] Since writing Dr. Porter has sent me photograph of another sort of
loom in which weights are used as counter balances to keep the heddles
raised. The subject requires further elucidation.


From the foregoing we gather that the Ancient Egyptians had two forms
of looms. The earlier or horizontal form, date about B.C. 2000, has in
a modified way survived to the present day in desert Egypt and is also
found in Seistan. It required a large area of ground for working and
probably in earlier times when there was plenty of space this did not
much matter. But as the population in the towns increased and with
the increase of civilisation and its concomitant increased demand for
cloth, probably out of proportion to the increase of population, space
would be begrudged and this may have caused the invention or the
introduction of the vertical form of loom which we find in use some
500 years later. In Egypt therefore the horizontal loom preceded the
vertical loom but it does not necessarily follow that such was the
case elsewhere. In so far as we can gather from the small amount of
information at our disposal, in the earlier days the women were the
weavers, and later on with the introduction of the upright loom the
men were the weavers with an occasional female weaver. In the Egyptian
Desert and in Seistan in the present day with horizontal looms the
weavers appear to be males, but among the nomads of Persia who
likewise use horizontal looms the weavers are females. In the use of
either form of loom the Egyptian weavers beat the weft downwards or
towards themselves and _not_ upwards or away from themselves. They had
the heddle in one of its earliest forms and had consequently made the
first great step in the evolution of the loom as we now know it. In
the beginning they made no selvedges so that for every pick a separate
length of weft thread was used. The adoption of the selvedge was
another improvement and until it was introduced the weft would no
doubt have been put through with the fingers, later on a spool being
used. It is possible also that in very late times the weavers' comb
was introduced. It is safe to say that the Egyptians had no knowledge
of the reed. Both forms of looms were simple, without harness or other
complicated pieces of mechanism. The Egyptians accomplished fairly
good work and judging these people from their looms alone we must
conclude they were a progressive race.

The Greek form of loom was an upright one on which the warp threads
were kept taut by means of weights and similar to the form which
existed in Central and Northern Europe (in the latter until recent
times) but of which so far there is no trace to the east, or south, or
west. The Greek loom may have been furnished with a heddle but the
drawings are not clear on this point. A spool was used. The weavers
were women and the weft was beaten upwards or away from the weaver. It
was not a form of loom so capable of improvement as the Egyptian forms
and there appears to be no connection between the forms used on either
side of the Mediterranean. The Greek tapestry loom could hardly have
been more primitive. In respect to the forms of looms used by the two
peoples the Egyptians were considerably in advance of the Greeks.


Transcriber's Note

Punctuation errors have been repaired.

The author uses some archaic and alternative spelling, for example,
nooze for noose, gramms for grammes. These have been retained as

The original text contained an erratum, as follows:

    Erratum:--Page 39, Line 5, for Dr. Henry Porter, _read_
    Dr. Harvey Porter.

The error has been fixed in this e-text.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page 8--Calliaud amended to Cailliaud--"... as well as
    those of Cailliaud and Rosellini show that ..."

    Page 11--Tehuti-hotep amended to Tehuti-hetep--"... from
    the tomb of Tehuti-hetep _circa_ 1938-1849 B.C., ..."

    Page 18--netsinker amended to net-sinker--"... the
    material is not suitable for a net-sinker, ..."

    Page 19, Fig. 21 caption--cm. amended to in.--"...
    Breadth 6·5 cm. (1-11/32 in.)."

    Page 23--pecularity amended to peculiarity--"When I
    noticed the peculiarity first, ..."

    Page 23--analagous amended to analogous--"We know how
    closely analogous to 'darning' was ..."

    Page 27--safron amended to saffron--"2. This is a
    coarser fabric, has been dyed with saffron, ..."

    Page 29--Millemetres amended to Millimetres--"Micro
    Measurements of Ten Fibres in Millimetres."

    Page 32, Fig. 31 caption--Etrusian amended to
    Etruscan--"... an Athenian skyphos found in an Etruscan
    tomb ..."

    Page 32--repeated instance of use deleted--"... there is
    apparently no evidence for the use of such objects ..."

    Page 35, Fig. 33 caption--templete amended to
    template--"The template for regulating the width of the

    Page 37, Fig. 35 caption--whorle amended to whorl--"...
    the fragment of a comb and a chalk spindle whorl, ..."

    Page 38--commonally amended to commonly--"They are
    commonly cut out of the hard chalk, ..."

    Page 38--archaeologists amended to archæologists--"...
    the ingenuity of our ablest archæologists at home and
    abroad ..."

    Page 38--impossibilty amended to impossibility--"As
    regards the practical possibility or impossibility ..."

The Figures have been moved, where necessary, so that they are not in
the middle of a paragraph.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Ancient Egyptian and Greek Looms" ***

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