© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1978.495.73
Title
Spindle
Classification
Tools and Equipment
Work Type
tool/equipment
Date
1-400 CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman?
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/188778
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bone
Technique
Carved
Dimensions
3.1 x 0.7 x 17.1 cm (1 1/4 x 1/4 x 6 3/4 in.)
Provenance
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University (by 1978), transfer; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1978.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University
Accession Year
1978
Object Number
1978.495.73
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
This spindle consists of a shaft with a V-shaped slit at the top where thread would have been attached. The disc (whorl) acted as a weight to twist the fabric. The end of the spindle is carved into a sharp point.
Commentary
Spindles such as this were used during the process of spinning, which resulted in the creation of yarns or threads that could later be used in weaving. Natural fibers have variations in texture; spinning evens out their irregularities and makes them strong and pliable. This spindle, like many ancient and modern examples, is weighted by a whorl, and has a slit at the top to guide the yarn.

Spindles were typically made from wood while whorls were made of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, bronze, terracotta, or bone. Bone spindles and whorls, such as this, have been found at sites in Greece and at Dura-Europos.
Publication History

Ioli Kalavrezou, Byzantine Women and Their World, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 152/fig. 74

Exhibition History

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

Byzantine Women and Their World, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/25/2002 - 04/28/2003

Subjects and Contexts

Roman Domestic Art

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu