Examining the Dura-Europos fragments

On Monday, May 20th, 2019, I was honored to be allowed to examine the cross-knit nalbound fragments found in Dura-Europos, Syria and now housed in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery as inventory numbers 1933.483 & 1935.556.

935.556 Yale University Art Gallery
Photo credit: Anne Marie Decker
1933.483 Yale University Art Gallery
Photo credit: Anne Marie Decker

The fragments are dated to pre-256 CE as that is when Dura-Europos was sacked and never re-occupied. As described in Yale’s online catalog, they are both of wool, though the ribbed fragments are of a finer gauge than the patterned fragment. The patterned fragment is currently a kind of beige with some possible staining. The ribbed fragments are also currently primarily beige, but with stripes of red, yellowish tan, blue & purple, and hints of green. Inv. # 1935.556 is actually composed of two separate fragments. They are stored unfixed to their backing boards in glassine wrapping to protect them from the light.

Time will be needed to process the data collected, analyze it, and prepare it for publication in appropriate venues. However, early indications are that there is likely evidence that will tie these examples even closer to the broader Roman Egyptian corpus.

While I generally kept my magnification such that I had approximately 10 welts per photo… I did have a little bit of fun with the endoscope. 933.483 Yale University Art Gallery

I would like to extend my warmest thanks and appreciation to Dr. Lisa Brody, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at the Yale University Art Gallery for her assistance and gracious hospitality giving me the opportunity to examine these exceptional fragments in their collection.


Additional sources that discuss the Dura-Europos finds: (to be updated)

Rutt, Richard. A History of Hand Knitting. London: B T Batsford Ltd, 1987 ISBN 0713451181; reprinted Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1989 ISBN 0-934026-35-1, Library of Congress Catalog Number 87-46353; pgs. 28-30.

Pfister, Rudolf and Bellinger, Louisa. "The textiles: Knitting," Rostovtzeff, M.I., et al. The excavations at Dura-Europos Final Report IV, Part II. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1945, 54-5.

Author: Anne Marie Decker

Nalbinding Researcher

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