Tunic thumbnail 1
Tunic thumbnail 2
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Tunic

130-340 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This tunic belonged to a woman who lived between 130 - 340 AD. It was excavated in the 1880s at a grave in Akhmim in Upper Egypt, together with numerous items of clothing, textiles and other artefacts. The graves were located in the hot, dry sands beyond the flood plains of the Nile. These provided ideal conditions for the long-term survival of textiles and clothing.

The practise of mummification had ceased by this time and bodies were often dressed in everyday wear. The voluminous T-shaped tunic was common wear at the time, usually worn with a belt. Such garments were not made by cutting cloth to shape in the modern way but were woven on the loom to the shape and size required.

Egypt was a province of Rome from the first to the third century and the stripes on the tunic, although purely decorative, derive from the shoulder bands (clavi) on the Roman toga which indicated the status or position of the wearer.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Tunic
  • Fragments
Materials and Techniques
Linen with tapestry woven decoration in wool with a small amount of gold thread
Brief Description
Tunic or dalmatica for a woman of linen with tapestry woven decoration in wool and gold thread, made in Egypt (probably Akhmim), 130-340 AD
Physical Description
Tunic or dalmatica for a woman of linen with tapestry woven ornaments in purple wool and undyed linen thread, consisting of long shoulder-bands and cuffs-bands. Each is composed of a broad stripe, with fret ornament forming a double row of oblong panels, which enclose interlacings and stem designs, on either side of a narrow wavy stripe. The ornament is traced in an outline of fine linen thread on the purple ground. The bands are doubled on the cuffs. Very full, with wide sleeves and woven in one piece. The bands of bare warp threads show where rods have been inserted in the warps to facilitate the weaving.
Dimensions
  • Height: 134.5cm
  • Includes sleeves width: 216.5cm
  • Excluding sleeves width: 114.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
(A short band in purple wool and gold thread near the bottom of the tunic may have indicated a particular workshop although this has not been identified)
Object history
Purchased from Caspar Purdon Clarke
Production
Found in a burial site at Akhmim, Upper Egypt and probably made there as it was a provincial weaving centre
Association
Summary
This tunic belonged to a woman who lived between 130 - 340 AD. It was excavated in the 1880s at a grave in Akhmim in Upper Egypt, together with numerous items of clothing, textiles and other artefacts. The graves were located in the hot, dry sands beyond the flood plains of the Nile. These provided ideal conditions for the long-term survival of textiles and clothing.



The practise of mummification had ceased by this time and bodies were often dressed in everyday wear. The voluminous T-shaped tunic was common wear at the time, usually worn with a belt. Such garments were not made by cutting cloth to shape in the modern way but were woven on the loom to the shape and size required.



Egypt was a province of Rome from the first to the third century and the stripes on the tunic, although purely decorative, derive from the shoulder bands (clavi) on the Roman toga which indicated the status or position of the wearer.
Bibliographic References
  • Pfister, Rudolf, Textiles de Palmyre découverts par le Service des antiquités du Haut-commissariat de la République francaise dans la nécropole de Palmyre (Paris: les Editions d'art et d'histoire, 1934), vol. I: p. 19 and pl. 5
  • Pfister, Rudolf, Textiles de Palmyre découverts par le Service des antiquités du Haut-commissariat de la République francaise dans la nécropole de Palmyre (Paris: les Editions d'art et d'histoire, 1937), vol. III: p. 15-16, pls. III a-c.
  • Kendrick, A. F., Catalogue of Textiles from the Burying grounds in Egypt (London: HMSO, 1920), vol. I: p. 40, pl. 1
  • Granger-Taylor, Hero, 'The two Tunics of St Ambrose' in CIETA Bulletin (Lyon: 1983), nos. 57-8, p. 140
  • Stauffer, A. Spätantike und Koptische Wirkerein (Bern: 1992) 34, Abb. 14
  • King, Donald, 'Roman and Byzantine Dress in Egypt' in Costume: Journal of the Costume Society (London), 1991, no. 30, pp. 1-15
Collection
Accession Number
361:1, 2-1887

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record createdJune 16, 2004
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