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Ancient woven textiles under the microscope

One of the biggest collection of prehistoric textiles in the world is stored north of Copenhagen for conservation and analysis

It is just a room, discreet at the end of a set of stairs and corridors at the back of the national museum area in Brede, north of Copenhagen.

Inside are racks upon racks of textiles, some of them covered in boxes, some rolled up in paper, easily accessible on shelves.

Nothing impressive at first sight. But this is probably one of the largest collection of pre-historic textiles in the world.

Wrapped around grave goods

The University Post was invited to the site recently by University of Copenhagen archaeologist Ulla Mannering of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Textile Research.

Downstairs, the conservation takes place. Up here, on an upper floor, in a room that is kept at exactly the right temperature, humidity and light, the capes and clothing fragments of past ages.

There was, for example, the late Bronze Age wool textile and skin remains of a cremation burial at Lusehøj, Denmark. They were used to wrap around the grave goods that since have been used to postulate a fascinating theory.

…and bog people

And there was more.

The costume of the Huldremose woman, one of the most well preserved Danish bog bodies dated to the Early Iron Age.
All studied intensely under the microscope, and through different techniques.

Watch the textile archaeologists at work in our photo gallery here.

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