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Bronze Age Textile & Wool Economy: The Case of the Terramare Site of Montale, Italy

Journal article
Authors Serena Sabatini
Timothy Earle
Andrea Cardarelli
Published in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Volume 84
Pages 359-385
ISSN 0079-497X
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Historical Studies
Pages 359-385
Language en
Keywords Bronze Age, commodity flows, community of practice, contexts of specialisation, craft production, Italy, political economy, spindle whorls
Subject categories Technology and culture, Archaeology


ABSTRACT At the onset of the 2nd millennium bc, a wool economy emerged across continental Europe. Archaeological, iconographical, and written sources from the Near East and the Aegean show that a Bronze Age wool economy involved considerable specialised labour and large scale animal husbandry. Resting only on archaeological evidence, detailed knowledge of wool economies in Bronze Age Europe has been limited, but recent investigations at the Terramare site of Montale, in northern Italy, document a high density of spindle whorls that strongly supports the existence of village-level specialised manufacture of yarn. Production does not appear to have been attached to an emerging elite nor was it fully independent of social constraints. We propose that, although probably managed by local elites, wool production was a community-based endeavour oriented towards exports aimed at obtaining locally unavailable raw materials and goods. © The Prehistoric Society 2018 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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