Museum of: Athens
    Name of the artefact: Spindle - whorl
   
Clay discoid spindle-whorl with incised symbols, two of which depict human figures.
                                 
 
WHERE IS IT AND MAIN CHARACTERISTICS
 
STATE
Department:
Prehistoric
Preservation:
Very good
Inventory number:
6005.1
Restauration:
No restored
Name of the artefact:
Spindle - whorl
Completeness:
Complete
Object type:
Tool
 
Material:
Clay
Methof of manufacture:
Hand made
Decoration type:
Incision
Distinctive mark:
Incision
DIMENSIONS
 
PERIOD OF USE
Length (mm):
-
Epoque:
Neolithic
Heigth (mm):
-
Culture:
-
Diameter (mm):
52
Period:
Final Neolithic<
Width (mm):
-
Face:
-
Thickness (mm):
5
Absolute chronology:
4500-3300BC
Weight (g):
22.8
DISCOVERY
Date:
1902
Country:
Greece
District:
Thessaly
Town hall affiliation:
Volos
Village:
Dimini
Discovery findspot:
Neolithic settlement of Dimini
Condition of discovery:
Archaeological excavation
Discovery type:
Deposit
 
ANALYSES DETERMINATIONS
 
FILLED IN BY
Type:
-
Name:
Alexandra Christopoulou
Laboratory:
-
Institution:
National Archaeological Museum - Greece
No./Code:
-
Date:
21/11/2005
 
DEEPENINGS

Morphology of the object:

Clay hand-made spindle-whorl in the shape of a disc. It is the simplest type in this category of tools. Spindle whorls together with loom-weights constitute the two groups of archaeological finds, which are related and become evident for the weaving practice.The main purpose of the spindle whorls is to increase the spinning of the spindle, thus their important characteristics are a) their diametre and b) their weight. Considering the above, there is variety in both. Still the diametre lies between 3-5cm, while their weight is about 20gr. According to ethnographic parallels, when a similar in shape object is less than 2cm in diametre, it is not possible to function as a spindle whorl. The diametre of the central hole, in which a spindle whorl is stabilised at the one edge of the spindle, is usually around 7-8mm. The central hole of the particular object presented here (no6005.1) is 6.5mm in diametre. The weight of the spindle whorl depends on the desired thickness of the thread as well as on the length of the fibres. The longer the fibre is the heavier the spindle whorl should be. Line, for instance, has long fibres, while wool has shorter ones.

Decoration:

These tools are found plain or decorated with incisions. The main characteristic of this spindle whorl is its specific incisions. The entire round surface has been incised before baking. The incision gives the impression of a clumsy scratching, without specific design. This opinion is strengthened when compared with other decorated spindle whorls, like no 6005.4 (photo). However, a closer look to this clumpsy incision shows that the lines on the surface are not decorative, but indicative of a script. Actually, the lines depict two human figures in abstract shape. The depiction of human figures incised or painted on neolithic objects is characteristic in the late and final neolithic periods.

Inscription:

-

Analogies:

An incised human figure is depicted on a late neolithic vase no 5926 (photo). The incised decoration on it, neat and clear is interupted by an incised human figure. Its presence changed this vase to an anthropomorphic utensil and altered possibly its function from common use to another specific, still unknown, purpose.

Interpretation:

The presence of human figures on this spindle whorl could indicate that the owner, most probably a woman, wanted possibly to communicate a message, or that it was her signature (of recognition).
Bibliography:
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