Happy New Year 2014

imageIn November (last year), there was some mention of the use of z-twist in Unraveling Unusual Stitches in the Turin Shroud, in which Charles Freeman is quoted

We next go on to the reference to figs. 111-113 on pages 201-11 of the Masada report. Yes these figs. do exist and on these pages. They all refer to the same fragment of wool. It is picked out and illustrated as it is wool, 2:2, Z twist spin, balanced diamond twill. So except for the Z spin being similar to that of the Shroud , I can’t see why this is relevant- it is not herringbone, linen or 3:1. In the discussion on the origins of the textiles found at Masada (p. 239), this cloth is placed in their group iv. The excavators’ conclusion is that these textiles probably came from northern Europe as this kind of twist (Z) and this kind of pattern is known from examples there. They suggest it may have come in with Roman soldiers who were involved in the crushing of the Masada revolt. I simply cannot see why Wilson provides a reference to a piece of cloth that has absolutely nothing in common with the Shroud except that its thread is Z spun (and thus as the excavators suggest probably spun in northern Europe).

and in Of Similarities: The Tunic of Argenteuil and the Shroud of Turin, in which Grzegorz Gorny is quoted from the book Witnesses to Mystery: Investigations into Christ’s Relics referring to the ‘Tunic of Argenteuil’ (hat tip to Joe Marino for the quotation):

Could that man have been Jesus of Nazareth?  It was confirmed that the tunic was produced using horizontal looms, whose width matched the proportions of those looms used in Christ’s time.  The weave, made using a so-called Z twist, indicates that the robe was probably made in the Near or Middle East.  The fabric’s dye was made of dyer’s madder (Rubia tinctorum), which was in widespread use in ancient times around the Mediterranean Basin.  The dyeing took place before the fabric was woven, and alum was used alongside the dye to dress the cloth.  Both of these practices were common in the first century.

Now, thanks to by Paolo Di Lazzaro, I learn of a report in Hadashot Arkheologiyot: Excavations and Surveys in Israel (vol. 124, Year 2012)

During September 2011, a one-day salvage excavation was conducted at the Sheikh Munis site in Ramat Aviv (Permit No. A-6273; map ref. 181587–667/668248–320; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of student dormitories. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Tel Aviv University . . .

And although z-twist remnants were found in two tombs, the tombs seem to be late Ottoman. How much significance can be drawn from this? But it does raise questions, again, about how much z-twist linen existed in earlier Palestine.

From the report:

Tomb 7–8. The tomb contained hamra fill.One individual, identified as a female 20–30 years of age, was discovered. A bundle of linen threads (diam. c. 1 cm; Fig. 6) was discovered in the tomb. The threads were not dyed and of cream color.They were Z-spun, which is not characteristic of the weaving technique in the country during this period. There are green dots of metallic corrosion on the bundle of threads, whichprobably belonged to a textile bead. A similar item was discovered in an excavation at Kefar Sava (‘Atiqot 61:91, Fig. 9).

[ . . . ]

Tomb 37. The tomb contained hamra fill. One burial was discovered, but was not inspected. The tomb was covered with stone slabs (thickness 0.3–0.4 m; Fig. 8).Two copper rings were discovered on one of the fingers of the deceased and two fragments of a ring were lying alongside the hand (Figs. 9, 10). The rings are round hoops and remains of a metal sheet are visible in the center of two of them.Thin hoop rings are characteristic of the Late Ottoman period. A small piece of textile (0.5×1.0 cm; Fig. 11) attached to a bronze ring was discovered in the tomb; the textile was preserved thanks to the corrosion of the metal. The textile is made of undyed linen (it is brown today), is Z-spun, c. 12 threads per sq cm and of medium spinning. The traditional spinning in Israel was S-spun and therefore it is assumed that the textile was imported. The weaving is a plain weave, which is fairly common. The textile probably belonged to a shroud.

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