Textile and leather finds from Poprad-Matejovce
Dr. Tereza Štolcová
During the archaeological research in 2006, in situ blocks containing soil and various organic objects like leather, textiles, bast or wooden parts of furniture were taken out from the chieftain’s grave and transported to Schloß Gottorf in Schleswig. Here they have been kept frozen at -20°C to prevent any decay and degradation processes awaiting their further treatment.
The laboratory examination of the in situ blocks has been executed in several stages. First stage was done in Schleswig in 2008-2011 within the European project “Clothing and Identities – New Perspectives on Textiles in the Roman Empire (DressID)” when parts of the floor of the inner chamber have been examined. The research was supported by the DressID project, the Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig and the Institute of Archaeology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The next stage of the laboratory research started in 2013 in Schleswig and has continued in the Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege in Hannover, where Dipl. Rest. Dorte Schaarschmidt processes remaining in situ blocks under the German Research Foundation’s project “The chamber grave of Migration Period at Poprad, Slovakia – an interdisciplinary research project for evaluation of an extraordinary find.” Detailed examination of in situ blocks from the grave has given the opportunity to develop and improve specific excavation as well as documentation methods (under the guidance of Dipl.-Rest. Gabriele Zink, ALM, Schloss Gottorf), which have been followed by an appropriate digitalisation in GIS (by Dipl.-Geogr. Karin Göbel, ZBSA).
The project focuses on detailed analysis of textile and leather finds retrieved from the in situ blocks from 2008 onwards. These finds require further conservation and restoration, which was partly done in summer 2014, when Dipl. Rest. D. Schaarschmidt in cooperation with Dipl. Rest G. Zink in Schleswig conserved most of the leather objects excavated so far. It will be followed by a detailed documentation, analysis and interpretation. Although textiles were the least preserved organic material from the grave, it was possible to detect many layers of various types. Most of the textiles could be determined as woollen, which may have been caused by the acidic environment in the grave. Apart from remains of decayed tabbies, twills and microscopic fragments of golden threads and golden embroidery, it was possible to identify a single piece of sprang, several tablet-woven textiles and parts of a unique slit tapestry fabric with an intricate palmette-like pattern in more colours.
The large collection of over 80 recovered leather objects is assumed to be connected to the textiles as well. They were very well preserved due to the slightly acidic pH-value of the soil, as well as the waterlogged conditions. All of them bear traces of stitching and therefore may have been connected to an already decayed underlying material. They consist of various ornamental pieces like numerous trefoils or loops and strips of many sizes and types. Presumably they could have been parts of clothing.
It is hoped, that detailed analysis and evaluation of textile and leather objects from Poprad-Matejovce will bring essential insights into the production and use of textiles in the Late Roman period and the beginning of the Migration period from the territory of Slovakia.