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Coats of many colours : dyeing and dyeworks in classical and Hellenistic Greece

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:42 authored by Mark. Monaghan
In the past, craft production in Classical and Hellenistic Greece has been studied mainly from a technological or social perspective. On the other hand, the study of ancient economies has largely neglected the role of craft production in favour of issues such as the nature of ancient economies, mechanisms for the exchange of goods, and the roles of agricultural production and slavery in economic activity. In this study I hope to redress this by looking at dyeing activity from an economic and social perspective. I have used a range of archaeological and historical evidence to build up a picture of the way dyeing (and by extension craft production) fitted into the subsistence strategies of the Classical and Hellenistic Greek household. The range of ingredients used, including dyes, fibres and chemical substances, and the nature of the processes carried out by ancient Greek dyers, are discussed. A methodology for the identification of dyeing activity in the archaeological record is proposed. Following a discussion of previous approaches to the study of ancient economic activity, a framework for the study of craft production in its economic and social context is also proposed. The evidence for dyeing activity in Classical and Hellenistic Greece is then analysed with reference to this framework, in order to assess the organisation and level of specialisation of dyeing and the way it fitted in with other subsistence activities on a seasonal basis.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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