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icon Textil


Textile is a generic term for processed raw materials that are made into yarns, fabrics, braids, non-wovens, felts and more. In archaeometry, natural materials used for this purpose are of greater importance. Mostly, these are fabrics of clothing, but also carpets and other processed fabrics are of cultural and historical importance. Depending on the time and location, different raw materials were preferred, but in most cases they were locally available materials. For example, textiles made of wool or felt, but also of vegetable fibers such as linen (flax) can be found. Braids from plants were also often used in the construction of settlement structures and buildings, as well as cords to hold things together. From the point of view of cultural history, but also climate history, it is interesting to know what animals supplied the wool and what plants were available for braids and cords. Linen plays an important role for paintings.

Sample properties

Wolle, Baumwolle und pflanzliche Textilien eignen sich sehr gut für die Radiokarbondatierung. Hier ist jedoch zu beachten, dass Wolle und Filz die üblichen chemischen Aufbereitungsschritte nicht vollkommen unbeschadet überstehen. So neigt die Wolle zur Gelatinebildung bei Kontakt mit Lauge (Natronlauge), wobei sie die Farbe behält, aber die Konsistenz vorübergehend verliert und erst bei der anschließenden Behandlung mit Säure (Salzsäure) wieder eine feste Konsistenz erhält. Leinen und pflanzliche Textilien sind im Gegensatz dazu wesentlich robuster.

14C dating

For radiocarbon dating on wool, a slightly larger sample quantity is required than for linen, for example. For linen it should be a thread about 2 cm long, for wool about twice that length or, if there is a flat piece, a piece the size of half a fingernail. In terms of weight, 20 mg is sufficient for linen, whereas wool should weigh about 50 mg. For other vegetable braids such as cords or coarse braids, 50 – 100 mg of sample material should be used. Please contact the laboratory if the sample quantities are considerably smaller.

Carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses

Carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses are possible for textile samples from a material quantity of less than 10 mg. A larger sample quantity is particularly recommended for textiles made from vegetable starting materials, as they contain less nitrogen than wool. Also multiple determinations and the preparation for the removal of preservatives or pigments require a larger sample quantity. Please contact the laboratory in the respective case.