Interpretări funcţionale ale „greutăţilor” din lut ars

Paula Mazăre

Among the most common findings of prehistoric archaeological sites as well as ancient and medieval ones are those artefacts made up mostly of fired clay and usually called by the Romanian archaeologists with the generic name of “weights”. So far, the Romanian archaeological literature lacks studies devoted exclusively to the function of these artefacts. This is the reasons why we considered appropriate to study this topic. Moreover, the current paper is grounded by our previous work. We investigated over 500 such objects found in various Neolithic and Copper Age sites in Transylvania and interpreted them as potential loom weights in our doctoral thesis (“The craft of textile production at the Neolithic and Copper Age communities in Transylvania (Romania)”, 2012). Ethnographic data and experimental studies have shown that almost any “weight” could be used for tensioning threads in the warp-weighted loom and in this case the artefacts represent an indirect proof of weaving. Besides this interpretation, specialists consider that artefacts could also have had other functions. Therefore, we believe that the name of “weight” should be defined in accordance to a set of criteria representative for the functional role of the artefacts, such as the context of discovery, the frequency or clusters of similar artefacts, the wear traces, etc. Starting from these premises, the paper is structured in two parts. First part presents the main functional interpretations found in the archaeological literature in relation to these artefacts: “firedogs” (“andiron”) or other functions related to fire, “link-stones” (“loop-stones”) used for fixing the thatched roofs, counter-weights, door-stoppers, net sinkers, weapons or prestige items; tools for twisting fibres/yarns and loom weights. Second part is devoted to verifying the presumed role of loom-weights for several artefacts found in the Neolithic and Copper Age sites in Transylvania (Starčevo-Criş culture, Linear Pottery Culture and Vinča, Turdaş, Petreşti and Ariuşd cultures). For this purpose, we employed the model of calculations and the functional assessment proposed by Linda Mårtensson and her collaborators from Centre for Textile Research (CTR), University of Copenhagen. As well, we brought some innovative additions to this model. One of the most important innovation was to define the warp density coefficient (WDC = the ratio of the thickness to the width of the loom-weight). Moreover, we expanded our innovation by applying the calculations on sets of objects found together which probably functioned as loom-weights in the same loom.

loom-weights, net sinkers, thatched roofs “link-stones”, “firedogs”, twisting tools, weapons, prestige artefacts.
List of illustrations

Figures and tables: Fig. 1. Different morphological types of fired clay „weights”, separated into categories depending on the position of the attaching holes: A. with the hole in the upper part; B. with central hole. Fig. 2. Way of twisting ropes in the Northwest coast of Canada (after Stewart, Cedar). Fig. 3. Schematic representation of weaving ways on the warp-weighted loom (a) for tabby weave (b) for diagonal weave (afterGrömer, Prähistorische). Fig. 4. Schematic representation of the set of loom weights found in situ at Magura Jilavei (afterComşa, Quelques considérations). Fig. 5. Attaching mode of the loom-weights for warp tensioning and specific wear traces: a schematic representation of the fastening Gallo-Roman loom-weights using hanging rings (after Ferdière, Le travail); b wear traces of the attaching hole observed on a loom-weight discovered at Turdaş (National Museum of Transylvanian History, Cluj-Napoca, Zsófia Torma Collection, Inventory. no. 9206). Fig. 6. Comparison between weight and diameter of the upper perforated “weights” showing no wear traces and with wear traces of specific hanging usage. Fig. 7. Comparison between weight and diameter of the central perforated “weights” showing no wear traces and with wear traces of specific hanging usage. Fig. 8. The relationship between the thickness of the weights and the leaning of the warp threads - the relation between the width of the fabric at the starting border and the lower end (after Médard, L’artisanat; Mårtensoon et alii, Technical Report; Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Fig. 9. Different ways of aligning loom-weights in a warp-weighted loom and their influence on the density of warp threads: a. depending on the thickness of loom-weitght; b. depending on the width of the loom-weights. Fig. 10. Functionally evaluated fired clay “weights”: [1] Starčevo-Criş culture (Zăuan-Dâmbul Cimitirului, L4-8/1977); [2] Linear Pottery Culture (Olteni-Cariera de Nisip); [3] Vinča culture (Limba-Bordane, Limba-Vărăria; Alba Iulia-Lumea Nouă); [4] Turdaş culture (Orăştie-Dealul Pemilor, L3/1992); [5] Petreşti culture (Păuca-Homm, L1/1965). Fig. 11. Functionally evaluated fired clay “weights” discovered in Ariuşd-Dealul Tyiszk: [1] Dwelling excavated in 1910; [2] Oven - Cp1/1979. Table 1. Correspondence between yarn thickness and the warp tension per thread (apudMårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Table 2. The relation between the type of fabric (fibres) and the type of loom-weights (defined by weight and thickness) (after Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Table 3. Calculation of a woven textile production based on the weight and thickness of a loom weight (after Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Table 4. Guidelines for optimal weaving based on the number of yarns per loom weight (after Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Table 5. Guidelines for evaluating the thread count/cm for the optimal setup of a warp-weighted loom (after Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things). Table 6. Guidelines for estimating the amount (length) of yarn/m2 in a woven cloth and the time consumption for spinning the yarn (after Mårtensoon et alii, Shape of Things).