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Publication Detail
Textile templates for ceramic crucibles in early Islamic Akhsiket, Uzbekistan
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Alipour R, Gleba M, Rehren T
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    15, 27
  • Journal:
    Archaeological Textiles Newsletter
  • Volume:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
The FerghanaValley, located in eastern Uzbekistan was an important area of textile production since the beginning of the Common Era. Located on the Silk Road, this area was likely a crossroads of Central Asia, which absorbed eastern and western infl uences. The fi nds of archaeological textiles in Uzbekistan are, however, exceedingly rare. Some of the earliest textiles have been excavated at the Bronze Age site of Sapallitepa in southern Uzbekistan, dated to the 17th- 14th centuries BC (Askarov 1977, 173-174). Numerous silk fragments were found in the Karabulak cemetery in southern Ferghana and date to the last centuries BC and 1st-2nd centuries AD (Litvinskiy 1972, 133- 136). Recently a large number of textiles from the Munchaktepa cemetery near Pap dated to the 5th- 8th centuries AD have been published (Matbabaev and Zhao 2010). The vast majority of the surviving textiles are silks but cott on and wool textiles were also present. On the basis of this material, Matbabaev and Zhao (2010, 227) suggest that silk production in the Fergana Valley was already developed at the beginning of the Common Era under the infl uence of China. Looking at the wider region of Central Asia, most textile scholarship has focused on the often spectacular patt erned silk fi nds (e.g. Schorta 2006 with extensive bibliographies), while litt le is known about the more mundane and utilitarian textiles made of other materials1 . An investigation of a large number of crucibles excavated at Akhsiket, a city in the Ferghana Valley of eastern Uzbekistan dated to the 9th-12th century AD, revealed numerous textile impressions. Olga Papakhristu (1985; 1993) was the fi rst scholar to discover that these crucibles must have been made by means of a textile mould. This paper follows up on her research by looking more closely at the textile impressions left on the crucible fabric, advancing our understanding of a highly standardized, industrial scale manufacture of crucible steel. It further brings into focus textiles used for utilitarian purposes in a region where few textiles have been found.
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