Methods of dating ancient textiles

Extremely dry conditions can amazingly preserve both the original colour and the fabric's unique characteristics including its size, shape, and weave pattern.

In complete contrast to this, yet yielding the same result, is extremely sodden conditions, such as in lakes, peat bogs, and stream beds that preserve organic textile remains due to the constant presence of moisture suppressing the action of humic acids and minimising the oxygen required for attacking bacteria to live.

A further and more technical identification process for woollen textiles and clothing is genetic examination.

Unique breeds of ancient sheep and goats permit analysts to determine origin of fibre.


Even in the height of the Roman period textiles enjoyed a key role in society.

Because of the somewhat short half-life of 14C, radiocarbon dating is not applicable to samples with ages greater than about 50,000 years, because the remaining concentration would be too small for accurate measurement.


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