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Weaving and spinning are two commonplace activities in the production of textiles. While weaving and spinning likely occurred year-round, the cold of winter was probably a good time to perform these indoor activities. Spinning occurs when fibers from animals or plants are twisted to produce a continuous strand of thread. While this could be done by hand, merely twisting fiber between the fingers, a spindle of often used to increase the speed of the process. A spindle is a short wooden pole with a clay weight added to the pole as a flywheel.
Once sufficient thread has been made, a ridged frame is used, called a loom, to weave textiles. While not all textiles are woven on a loom, the holes in the ground used to hold up a loom, called post holes, and the weights used to hold the vertical loom strings taut, have been found at Linear Pottery Culture sites, as well as the majority of Neolithic sites.
A Neolithic person weaves cloth by firelight
In this scene, our villagers are dressed warmly for the winter. They have a warp-weighted loom ready to leave a square panel of textile which can be used for something, perhaps clothing. There is a wooden comb used for packing the fibers that are being woven tightly together and a long wooden tool called weaving sword, which is used during weaving to pack fibers in place and separate vertical threads. As you can see, layering was probably quite important as Neolithic clothing is often made from many small individual garments, which form the totality of the outfit.
An example of weaving on a slightly more modern warp-weighted moon can be seen here. It will quickly illustrate how all of these tools work together
1 - Spinning Spindle: A short wooden pole with a clay flywheel attached to one end used to spin fibers into a continuous thread. Spindles can come in many shapes and sizes, but we can reduce much about them from the flywheels they left behind, called whorls. A reproduction can be seen here.
2 - Wooden Beater Comb: A wooden or bone comb used to pack threads tightly in a weave. Such combs could be used for many other purposes, including combing the hair, threshing flax, straightening wool, and many other tasks. Bone and wooden combs were challenging to make and likely prized possessions. A reproduction can be seen here.
3 - Feather Adornments: Feathers are found as hair decoration throughout the world. While no direct evidence links the Linear Pottery Culture to their use, it can be supposed that such decoration may have been worn. A reproduction can be seen here
4 - European Brown Bear Fur Coat: A sizeable furry hide from a European brown bear is worn with a single polished bone button. They may pull the hide around their body if they become cold. Otzi, the Ice Man, had a similar coat, though his was made from goatskin. A reproduction can be seen here
5 - Antler Bead Necklace: A necklace of beads made from the antlers of deer. The string is attached with a string of fiber thread or a leather thong. Such beads are quite commonplace throughout prehistory, though often clay and stone survive while antlers decompose.
6 - Roe Deer Leather Shirt: A soft leather two-hide shirt, keeping them warm and resisting the wind. The shirt is made from two deer hides sewn together. The shape of the hides produces a natural shirt-shape. A reproduction can be seen here
7 - Wool Apron: A plain woven textile made from wool from sheep who live in the village. It might be worn as a decorative sash or perhaps held when not used for warming some other part of the body. Such a textile is roughly the same design as a woven loincloth, but it could also have been used as a scarf. Neolithic textiles were typically small panels sewn together to make larger ones. A reproduction can be seen here.
8 - Leather Wrap Skirt: One of the most common garment forms is a simple leather piece wrapped around the waist, often secured in place with cordage. These can be as simple as a rough hide to as complicated is a well-cut and decorated piece of leather, with paint, shells, and many other additional adornments. Such garments are often depicted on figurines and even recorded and more contemporary lithic cultures worldwide, being nearly as ubiquitous as the loincloth. A reproduction can be seen here.
9 - Soft Leather Shoes: Leather shoes can be made from a single piece of leather cut and sewn with fiber thread or leather thong into a simple shoe. Similar to North American Native American moccasins, similar shoes have been found throughout the world. Perhaps the best-preserved example of this type of shoe found is from copper age Armenia. About 5500 years old, the “Areni-1,” named for the location found, shoe is a great example. A modern reproduction can be seen here.
10 - Warp Weighted Loom: A vertical loom made from two vertical wooden posts supporting a horizontal bar to which many vertical hanging strings are fixed. With weights at the bottom holding the vertical strings taut, various means of separating the strings to pass the horizontal thread between them or use, most commonly splitting every other string by tying them to a horizontal bar that could be pulled, separating half of the strings at once. An example of weaving on a slightly more modern warp-weighted moon can be seen here.
11 - Weaving Sword: A highly polished flat sword-like piece of wood used to separate the vertical strings of a loom and pack strings in place after the world. It is one of the most critical tools of weaving. Older weaving swords that were no longer viable may have been used for other activities, such as flax scutching. A reproduction can be seen here.
12 - Loom Weights: Clay or sometimes stone weights used to hold the vertical strings of a loom under continuous tension making weaving possible. The weights are one of the few components of ancient looms that tend to survive, allowing archaeologists to piece together other aspects of the loom from their characteristics. A reproduction can be seen here.
13 - Spondylus Shell Necklace: Spondylus gaederopus shells were occasionally found among the graves of the Linear Pottery Culture, as well as several other Neolithic cultures. Imported via trade from the Mediterranean, they appear to have been rather important, likely owing to their beautiful and exotic shape. Full shells as well as various pieces of jewelry made from shells have been found. A more extensive analysis can be read here..
14 - Painted Red Deer Leather Shirt: A soft leather two-hide shirt, keeping them warm and resisting the wind. The shirt is made from two deer hides sewn together. The shape of the hides produces a natural shirt-shape. The lines are painted onto the shirt by rubbing wood ash and oil into the leather. The tree-like patterns used are derived from actual patterns found on figurines found at Linear Pottery Culture sites. Painted leather is common throughout contemporary lithic cultures. A reproduction can be seen here
15 - Deer Leather Apron: A prehistoric apron refers to a strip of material covering a portion of the front groin area but does not cover the back. In this case, it is a piece of leather that has been cut decoratively at the bottom and draped across a waist cord to provide a garment. A back part of similar design may also be added, but at that point, the ensemble would more appropriately be referred to as a loincloth.reproduction can be seen here.
16 - Leather Leggings: Leggings are made from one or more strips of leather and held up by the waist cord. Leggings protect the wearer from the elements and may even be worn under a dress. In many ways, leggings are what would become pants many thousands of years later. Leggings to not cover the groin, so a breechcloth or loincloth is often worn for this purpose. A reproduction can be seen here.
17 - Leather Boots: While few examples of prehistoric footwear have survived, given their materials' perishability, examples of later period footwear can be used to speculate on how they might have looked. They were likely made from a single piece of leather, cut to fit the wearer's foot, and sewn together using leather cord, fiber thread, or sinew, not unlike Indigenous American moccasins. Footwear was likely not worn unless the temperature or task required them, as footwear was hard to make and wore out quickly.
18 - Scutcher Sword: A tool used to break apart flax and rip the woody outer components from the inner fibers. These tools may have been purposefully made or used worn-out weaving swords.
19 - Harvested Flax: Flax is a flowering plant which grows native in parts of the Middle East, Anatolia, and the Levant, but has been brought to Europe and beyond. Flax is planted in early spring, just after the ground has thawed, and grows to full size in about 100 days. While the seeds are edible, flax's main benefit is the long fibers found within the plant stalks. These fibers can be extracted and spun into thread to make a fabric known as linen. A short narrative story depicting how flax was grown, harvested, and processed may be seen here.
The linear pottery culture is the name given to an early Western European Neolithic culture identified by its common use of impressed lines in its pottery. Sometimes abbreviated LBK, from its German name, Linearbandkeramik, the linear pottery culture flourished along the streams and rivers of Western Europe starting perhaps as early as 5700 B.C.E., and eventually changing sufficiently to be reclassified as another culture around 4500 B.C.E.
Linear Pottery Culture Village - By Alexandra Filipek
Linear Pottery Culture gets its name from the use of lines (and dots) impressed into their pottery's wet clay before firing hard. While impressions into clay can be found in nearly any culture that makes pottery, the Linear Pottery Culture focuses strongly on using this technique. Moreover, these patterns can be found on figurines they made, implying that the design may have been used throughout their culture.
Farming and the domestication of animals are vital properties of the Neolithic revolution, and the Linear Pottery Culture engaged in both. Crops of peas, emmer and einkorn wheat, lentils, and possibly flax were grown. Unlike later cultures, Linear Pottery Culture farming likely involved small farm plots, more akin to extensive gardens, than large scale farming. Crop rotation had not been discovered, resulting in fields needing to be abandoned after a period, or left unused for a time.
Domesticated pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle, from their wild cousins, provided meat, milk (for cheese), wool, and bones(for tools. Interestingly, most early Neolithic people were lactose intolerant and could not comfortably consume milk after adolescence. The invention of cheese from milk may have helped with this as cheese is more easily digested by lactose-intolerant people than milk, and provides a rich source of nutritious food.
Hunting, fishing, and gathering were essential components of the Linear Pottery Culture. They appear to have accounted for a much larger food intake than agriculture, compared to later Neolithic cultures (1). Hunted animals included red deer, roe deer, wild boar, aurochs, red squirrel, fox, bear, beaver, and many smaller game. Various birds were hunted for meat and feathers, such as the barn owl, dove, and duck. Hunting involved the use of the bow and arrow but also trapping. We can speculate that all genders participated in hunting. Fish, mollusks, and amphibians could be gathered or hunted from lakes, creeks, and rivers. Catfish, Atlantic Salmon were likely important fish due to their large size and prevalence. Standard fishing methods involved barbed spears, cast nets, weirs, traps, and ice fishing.
While very little evidence of violence exists for the Linear Pottery Culture, there have been some indications of palisade walls and wounds consistent with violence. On the one hand, piecing together such details from as far as 7500 years ago can be quite challenging. On the other, territorial violence is relatively common among most human cultures. Many examples of possible violence, including possible cannibalism, have been considered. Today, this topic remains an open question. Likely, violence occurred at least infrequently.
Linear Pottery Culture longhouses were quite sophisticated structures for their time. Longhouses often had wattle and daub walls, thatched roofs, and even stables for livestock in the latter half of the period. While longhouse sizes varied by location and time, a typical construction might be 40m (131') long and 6m (20') wide, and a height of 6m (20') at the center of its thatched gabled roof. The roof would nearly extend to the ground and was supported upon dozens of large wooden poles, each buried in the ground and facing up. The vertical poles would run the length of the house in two rows, one on each side. Sometimes, a center row would also be used. The walls would be constructed of wattle and daub.