Epinetra at large : textile tools from the wider Greek world

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2020-01-29

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Zamir, Einav

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This dissertation reexamines the epinetra of the sixth through fourth centuries from across the Mediterranean, with special interest in the material from outside of Athens. Methodologically, this text strays from previous studies that focused more heavily on visual analysis of motifs than the possible usage of functional prototypes. The research presented here combines direct anthropological study of modern textile traditions, new evidence from site museums, and observation and handling of non-Athenian objects to determine function. The evidence from ancient lexicographers and modern textile workers suggests that epinetra were used for thigh spinning and were likely preferable for the spinning of linen. Their popularity between the sixth and fourth centuries seems to correspond to this reality, with an increased investment in linen body armor by Greek military forces. A woman’s role in creating linen items was therefore considered a major contribution to the state and the family. As the seated position was associated with mature women, epinetra served as appropriate grave goods in female burials and as votive offerings to female deities associated with childbirth and rearing.

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