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Panel from a tunic

Panel from a tunic

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    6th Century - 7th Century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry-woven wool and undyed linen

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Robert Taylor

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This panel, possibly from a linen tunic, was probably cut from a larger piece at the time of excavation. It is an example of the thousands of garments and other textiles buried with the dead in graves along the banks of the Nile in Egypt, which were excavated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The panel has a classical subject, which may be intended to represent Hephaestus forging the armour of Achilles, from Greek mythology. Scenes from both Greek and Roman mythology were often used on Egyptian textiles and costume, and continued to remain popular into the early Christian period.

The use of wool for the decorations of furnishings and dress was mainly the result of the difficulty of dyeing linen, the other main fibre used in Egypt. Plain linen tunics and hangings were freqently discarded by early excavators and only the coloured wool decorations retained.

Physical description

Tapestry-woven panel, in dark purple wool over undyed linen, with details on the figures in undyed linen in flying shuttle technique. The panel depicts a scene from Book 18 of the Iliad, of the forging of the arms of Achilles. The centre of the scene shows the god Hephaestus / Vulcan bent over a forge, raising a hammer, with Achilles standing behind and a third figure, possibly Thetis, sat in front.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


6th Century - 7th Century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tapestry-woven wool and undyed linen


Height: 12.5 cm, Width: 12.5 cm

Descriptive line

Tapestry woven panel depicting Hephaestus / Vulcan forging the arms of Achilles, dark purple wool and undyed linen, possibly 6th or 7th Century

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

A. F. Kendrick, Catalogue of Textiles from Burying Grounds in Egypt, I (London, 1920), No. 41 Pl. 12
S. Lewis, 'A Coptic Representation of Thetis at the Forge of Hephaistos', American Journal of Archaeology 77.3 (1973), 309-318


Wool; Linen


Tapestry; Flying shuttle

Subjects depicted

Sword; Armour


Arms & Armour; Clothing; Textiles; Death; Africa


Middle East Section

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