Loom Weights in Bronze Age Central Europe (J. Kneisel)


Loom Weights in Bronze Age Central Europe


Although traces of textiles can be found on bronze and iron artefacts, other finds are rarely preserved. For the region between the Elbe and the Oder, the area of the Early Bronze Age Únětice groups, and the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Lusatian groups, our knowledge of the textiles is extremely small. More often, however, we find spindle whorls and the loom weights of the warp-weighted looms. They vary in shape and weight and are found in different contexts. In contrast to the spindle whorls, which are almost completely absent in the Únětice context, loom weights were selected for the present study. Since these occur both in the Early and Late Bronze Age, they are suitable for a diachronic study. The frequency of the occurrence, their context and their form are to be investigated. If measurements (weight and size) are available, this is considered in the analysis. A database with the data used for this article is available here.

In contrast to the alpine area, the Central European types are limited to two basic forms: the cylindrical shape of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age and the pyramidal type from the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. The latter type extends in part even into the Roman Period. While in the Alpine region, South and South-East Europe, the larger range of types speak for a very individual and variable textile technology, the almost uniform shape of Central Europe points to a seemingly standardized textile production. In addition, the number of loom weights increases markedly from the Early Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age. The increasing number of graves with loom weights in the Lusatian groups, scenic depictions of weaving, and rich women burials in the Iron Age prove, however, that the textile production is gaining in importance compared to older periods. In addition the individual case studies show that in the Iron Age a division of labor between spinning and weaving, partly within the settlement, partly between fortified settlements and other sites could be assumed.

loom weights, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Central Europe


The material for this study was gleaned from various regional studies, which were combined and supplemented with new information from literature research. The emphasis was placed on Bronze Age and Early Iron Age loom weights, which chronologically cover the second millennium and first half of the first millennium BC (2200– 500 BC). The material selected extends to the Rhine as a western border and to the Warta in the east, as well as from Denmark to the Alpine region. Northern Italy and Croatia were only sporadically recorded. Except for Denmark, northern Europe was not included.

In total, more than 1,000 sites were recorded, and these produced more than 6,000 individual loom weights. An exact indication of the number of loom weights is not always possible. In some cases, only fragments are present, and sometimes comprehensive details are not available in the literature. The number of loom weights listed in the tables may therefore be regarded as minimum totals.

This supplemented data contains a table (.xls) with all collected loom weights and all figures of the text in colour and additional figures which weren’t include in the printed article. The collecting work of weights ended January 2019.

second millennium and first half of the first millennium BC (2200– 500 BC)


Kneisel, Jutta; Schaefer-Di Maida, Stefanie

Contributor(s)  C. Rinne, A.Karl
Created December 2019
Last Modified  
Date published 2019
Language english
Format Zip (xls, pdf)
Bibliographic Citation Kneisel/Schaefer-Di Maida 2019:
JUTTA KNEISEL/STEFANIE SCHAEFER-DI MAIDA, Loom Weights in Bronze Age Central Europe. In: SERENA SABATINI/SOPHIE BERGERBRANT (Hrsg.), The Textile Revolution in Bronze Age Europe. Production, Specialisation, Consumption (Gothenburg 2019) 80-116.
License CC BY-NC-SA
Link to the dataset .zip File