Project Description

Publikation: The Significance of Archaeological Textiles. Papers of the international online conference 24th–25th february 2021

The THEFBO congress (THEFBO II) have been published. The volume will be published in Open Access at Propylaeum eBooks in early 2026. 

In the meantime, THEFBO I, i.e., the THEFBO evaluation volume, is on its way. We are confident that it will be published by 2025 at the latest.



Textiles matter – the Neolithic revolution would not have taken place without them. Many of the common utensils used in prehistoric agricultural settlements were textile products. They were indispensable to carry out everyday tasks in the context of a sedentary lifestyle.

From 2019 to 2021, the THEFBO project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) focused on “Textile craftsmanship in the prehistoric wetland settlements on Lake Constance and Upper Swabia – requirements for textiles and their perception”.

Volume II of the THEFBO publications contains the proceedings of a conference held online from 24th–26th February 2021. It deals with (mainly technical) textiles and raw materials from a dendrological, palaeobotanical, textile-archaeological and cultural-historical perspective and gives insights into the wide range of textiles in prehistory. The broad spectrum ranges from Mesolithic tree bast strings and bags from Early Neolithic wells to textile tools and imprints on clay sealings from Bronze Age Greece and objects made of plant fibres and wool from ice patches in the Alps.



Johanna Banck-Burgess, Elena Marinova, and Doris Mischka

  • Introduction

Sebastian Böhm, Anja Probst-Böhm, Doris Mischka, Sebastian Million,

Mila Andonova-Katsarski, Ingrid Stelzner, and Johanna Banck-Burgess

  • The THEFBO project. Initial insights into the analysis and results of neolithic textiles and the natural sciences

Johanna Banck-Burgess

  • Textile terminology and the importance of a generic term for textile manufacturing techniques in prehistoric times

Bernhard Gramsch and Ilona Kernchen

  • Early Holocene tree bast strings, ropes, and nets from Friesack 4, Brandenburg

Maria Herrero-Otal, Susagna Romero-Brugués, and Raquel Piqué Huerta

  • Approaching Neolithic basketry and cordage in the north-eastern Iberian Peninsula. Raw material and technology.

Harald Sträuble and Gabriele Wagner

  • Wood beyond houses. The varying use of wood in the Early Neolithic Linear Pottery Culture

Regula Gubler

  • Frozen textiles. Prehistoric objects made of plant fiber and wool from ice patches in the Bernese Alps (Switzerland)

Oliver Nelle and Elena Marinova

  • Lime (Tilia spec.) in European woodlands. Vegetation history, ecology and multiple ways of utilization

Irenäus Matuschik

  • Vessels made of clay and organic materials in settlements of the fourth millennium BC at Lake Constance

Karina Grömer

  • Cross-craft interaction betwenn cordage and pottery in Central Europe, 2600–1600 BC

Małgorzata Siennicka

  • Flax and wool. Textile production in Early Bronze Age Mainland Greece

Agata Ulanowska

  • Why not wool? Evidence for the raw material and technical uses of textiles based on imprints on the undersides of clay sealings from Bronze Age Greece

Marco Baioni, Margarita Gleba, Claudia Mangani, and Roberto Micheli

  • Neolithic and Bronze Age textiles and textile tools from Northern Italy. The cases of Palù di Livenza (Pordenone) and Lucone di Polpenazze del Garda (Brescia)

Hildegard Igel and Johanna Banck-Burgess

  • Manufacturing Prehistoric Threads. Some Practical Knowledge about Splicing and Spinning



Bestellung The Significance of Archaeological Textiles II bei Reichert Verlag

Ausstellung: STEINZEIT - einfach genial

Die Wanderausstellung aus dem Thefbo-Projekt wird vom 21.5.2023 bis 22.10.2023 in veränderter Form im Stadtmuseum in Erlangen gezeigt. 


Sonderstausstellung auf der Seite Stadtmuseum Erlangen

Projektbeschreibung THEFBO Universität Erlangen

Publikation: Micro-computed tomography for the identification and characterization of archaeological lime bark. Sci Rep 13, 6458 (2023)


Jörg Stelzner, Sebastian Million, Ingrid Stelzner, Oliver Nelle, Johanna Banck-Burgess


In the Neolithic pile-dwelling settlements of southwestern Germany, bark played a prominent role in the production of technical textiles. So far, the inner bark (phloem) of the lime tree (genus Tilia) could be detected most frequently. Microscopic examination of anatomical features can determine the taxon, requiring manipulation of samples and archaeological objects. In this study, micro-computed tomography (µCT) was reviewed as a method for determining the woody taxon and obtaining additional information from the inner bark. To this end, modern bark samples from different tree organs of lime were first analysed using both µCT and transmitted light microscopy. Both methods were able to detect all characteristic anatomical features in the phloem and identify the genus. With analysis based on µCT data, further anatomical information can be obtained. For example, the shape of the phloem rays in the bast strips can provide information on the position within the bark and on the original organ diameter. These results obtained on modern material were verified on four samples from archaeological objects. Based on µCT, all samples could be clearly identified as lime and in two cases conclusions could also be drawn about the raw material. This approach could lead to new results and interpretations in archaeological sciences.


Micro-computed tomography for the identification and characterization of archaeological lime bark | Scientific Reports (

Publikation: THEFBO – Geschichte des Textilhandwerks neu beleuchtet. Technische Textilien und ihre Rohstoffe im Fokus

Autorinnen und Autoren

Johanna Banck-Burgess, Ingrid Stelzner, Sebastian Million, Mila Andonova-Katsarski, Elena Marinova, Hildegard Igel, Siegfried Fink, Doris Mischka, Matthias Schweins, Michael Kaiser


Die Anfänge des Textilhandwerks werden häufig mit gesponnenen Fäden aus Flachs oder Wolle und der Weberei verbunden. Im Rahmen des Forschungsprojektes „THEFBO“ (siehe Nachrichtenblatt der Denkmalpflege in Baden-Württemberg, Heft 3/2019) standen Alltagstextilien aus Gehölzbasten, Binsen und Gräsern im Fokus, die in den prähistorischen Seeufersiedlungen im Alpenvorland gefunden wurden. Es sind Rohstoffe, die lange vor den kultivierten Textilfasern in Form technischer Textilien zum Einsatz kamen.


Artikel Projekt THEFBO im Onlinejournal

Publikation: Archäologie in Deutschland 02/2022 April-Mai. Schwerpunktthema: Rinde, Bast, Leinen – Textiles aus der Steinzeit


Textilien – da stellt man sich als Erstes gewebte Stoffe und Kleidung vor. Die archäologische Forschung hat zumeist Flachs und Wolle im Visier. Funde aus der Mittelsteinzeit und jungsteinzeitlichen Pfahlbauten zeigen jedoch eine andere Seite des Webhandwerks:

technische Textilien. Rohstoffe und Verfahren sind Schrittmacher technischer und ökonomischer Entwicklungen. Wir gehen der Bedeutung der verschiedenen Materialien nach mit einem Schwerpunkt auf der wichtigsten Rohstoffquelle: dem Gehölzbast.

THEFBO Conference Update

Unfortunately it is not possible to put the conference online as announced.

This is mainly due to legal reasons, of which the full implications were only clear in retrospect. We regret this very much and would like to apologise!
We will do our utmost to publish the conference papers as soon as possible!


Leider ist es doch nicht möglich, die Tagung wie angekündigt online zu stellen.

Dies hat vor allem rechtliche Hintergründe, deren Tragweite erst im Nachhinein vollständig klar waren. Dies bedauern wir sehr und möchten wir entschuldigen!
Wir setzen alles daran, die Tagungsbeiträge so schnell wie möglich zu publizieren!

What is THEFBO?

THEFBO is a joint project of five copartners. The acronym subsumes the project title: “Textile craftsmanship in the prehistoric wetland settlements on Lake Constance and Upper Swabia – requirements for textiles and their perception.” The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for three years.

On the basis of wetland textile finds from southwestern German lake dwelling settlements, it aims to establish a new and diachronic perspective from Neolithic to Bronze Age settlements.

It is assumed that textiles featured prominently in the diachronic development of these agricultural settlements. In this context, textiles are not only understood as a mere concomitant in prehistoric wetland settlement material culture, but functioned as a pacemaker within a reciprocal relation between social meaning and perception.

The interdisciplinary project not merely shows the potential of a hitherto neglected class of finds, but rather emphasizes the key role of textiles within the cultural context of early settlements in the German southwest. This will result in a new perspective of research regarding textiles and early settlements nationally and internationally.

Was ist THEFBO?

THEFBO ist das Akronym für ein dreijähriges Verbundprojekt von fünf Partnern. Es steht für den Projekttitel: „Die kulturhistorische Bedeutung des Textilhandwerks der prähistorischen Feuchtbodensiedlungen am Bodensee und Oberschwaben ‒ im Kontext von Anforderungen an textile Objekte und ihre Wahrnehmung.“

Das Verbundprojekt wird anhand der Feuchtbodentextilien aus südwestdeutschen Pfahlbausiedlungen einen völlig neuen und diachronen Blickwinkel auf jungsteinzeitliche bis hin zu metallführenden Siedlungsgemeinschaften aufzeigen.

Dabei wird davon ausgegangen, dass Textilien eine zentrale Rolle bei den alltägliche Arbeiten der Seeuferbewohnen einnahmen. Dabei fungierten sie in praktischen und sozialen Bereichen nicht nur als Begleiter, sondern agieren als Schrittmacher in einer wechselseitigen Beziehung zwischen gesellschaftlicher Bedeutung und Wahrnehmung.

In diesem interdisziplinären Verbundprojekt soll jedoch nicht nur das Potenzial einer bisher vernachlässigten Materialgruppe aufgezeigt werden, sondern auch die Schlüsselstellung von Textilien im kulturhistorischen Kontext früher Siedlungsgemeinschaften im süddeutschen Raum herausgestellt werden, die den Blickwinkel auf frühe Ackerkulturen bundesweit und international verändern wird.