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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    300-499 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool, single-needle knitted

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Egyptian Exploration Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Before the technique of knitting with two needles evolved, textiles with a very similar structure and texture were created by a technique known as ‘single-needle knitting’. This small bag, made in this method was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the 3rd to 5th century AD, found in the present-day city of al-Bahnasa in Egypt and was possibly made as an accessory for a child’s doll.

Single-needle knitting used yarn threaded through the eye of a sewing needle worked in the round through a series of loops. It was much more laborious and slower than knitting with two needles, as the yarn could only be worked in short lengths. Extra pieces of yarn had to be spliced on as the ‘knitting’ progressed.

Physical description

A small bag, possibly for a doll, worked in single-needle knitting in purple, green and coral wool with drawstring of gold yarn at one end and a bead-shaped woollen ornament at the other.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


300-499 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Wool, single-needle knitted


Length: 8 cm approx., Width: 4 cm approx.

Object history note

Excavated from Christian burial grounds in the late Roman city of Oxyrynchus (now known as al-Bahnasa) during excavations by the Egypt Exploration Fund during the winter of 1903/4.

Historical significance: A rare example of single-needle knitting from the late Roman period - possibly representing a child's toy.

Descriptive line

for a doll? single-needle knitting, 300-499, Egyptian, green, coral wool, Oxyrhynchus

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

A F Kendrick, Catalogue of Textiles From Burying-Grounds in Egypt, Vol II (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1920): 90, catalogue No.609.
R. Janssen, 'Soft Toys from Egypt', in D. M. Bailey (ed.), Archaeological Research in Roman Egypt. The Proceedings of the Seventeenth Classical Colloquium of Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, held on 1-4 December, 1993. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement 19 (1996): 237-8, Fig. 8




Single-needle knitting


Accessories; Africa


Middle East Section

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