Ancient Pompeii textiles previewed

Naples Archaeological Museum presents results of examinations

(ANSA) - Naples, May 16 - The Naples Archaeological Museum, MANN, presented findings on Wednesday from examinations of 150 artifacts of various fibers and fiber arts from the Roman imperial period, found mostly at the Pompeii archaeological site and the area buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It presented the findings at the biennial Art and Restoration Fair in Florence.
    Some of the objects presented included a wooden spool with silk thread, threads made of gold, a handbag, a bow, and samples of textiles such as linen, wool, and hemp, all of which revealed the feminine side of the ancient world. MANN Director Paolo Giulierini said the museum has entrusted restoration of the collection to the Italian Cultural Ministry's autonomous institute for restoration, the OPD, in Florence.
    He said MANN has also started a partnership with the University of Campania's Vanvitelli campus's architecture and industrial design department to study a concept for the 2019 exhibition.
    "(The exhibition) will put this valuable collection on display for the first time, as well as the fascinating history of the ancient textiles culture," Giulierini said.
    "The exhibition is supported by a scientific research project that, thanks to technology, will examine the composition of the fibres and how they were worked, including with the goal of determining the most appropriate conservation methods," he said.
    Other objects shown at the presentation included a cloth woven with asbestos that came from the 4th-century necropolis in Vasto, as well as asbestos threads and a fabric knitted with silk that radiocarbon dating placed between the 15th and 16th centuries.
    Technology used to examine the fibres includes X-ray spectroscopy on electron microscopes and atomic force microscopy in order to analyse the nature and morphology of the samples.
    The technology revealed, among other things, that the thick fibres of the bow were made from pine needles, and that the silk from the wooden spool was wild silk produced by silkworm moths.
    "With the students we are creating an informational database on personal and decorative textiles based on examinations of our frescoes," said Luigia Melillo, head archaeologist at MANN's restoration office.


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