Weaving and Dyeing

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Author: Charlie Samuels
Date: 2014
Technology in Ancient Egypt
Publisher: Gareth Stevens
Series: Technology in the Ancient World
Document Type: Topic overview
Pages: 2
Content Level: (Level 2)

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Page 36

Weaving and Dyeing

Flax grows next to a lake. The fibers of the plant were wound into threads that were woven to make linen. Flax grows next to a lake. The fibers of the plant were wound into threads that were woven to make linen.

Egyptian farmers grew flax alongside their grain crops. Flax was used to make linen for clothing. Converting the flax plant into linen was a long process. The threads were then woven on looms. The earliest known picture of a loom dates to around 3000 B.C.E. Linen was dyed using an array of minerals to make different colors.

Page 37  |  Top of Article

Flax was collected in bundles and soaked in water to break down the tough outer parts of the plant. It was beaten with wooden mallets to separate the fibers, which were spun on sticks (spindles). The spindle had a weighted circular whorl on one end. The spinner set the spindles spinning on the ground. This pulled the fiber from the flax and twisted the thread around the spindle. It was now ready for weaving.


Dyes were made from various minerals. Red came from iron oxide or ochre, pale blue from copper carbonate, and green from malachite.

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  • The weaving of cloth dates back approximately 7,000 years.
  • The earliest looms were horizontal. Pegs were hammered into the ground to make a rectangular frame fitted with crossbars to hold the threads. The weaver crouched on the ground to work the loom.
  • The vertical upright loom was introduced around 1500 B.C.E.
  • People of high rank and the rich wore the finest linen.
  • The finest linen was almost transparent; it was only worn by the pharaohs.
  • Wool was also widely used to make fabric and wool clothes.

HOW TO… HOW TO… The vertical loom replaced the horizontal loom for weaving in the New Kingdom. A wooden frame supported the threads, which were tied with weights to keep them taut. The cross-thread was pushed back and forth between the vertical threads, then pushed up into place.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX6338300021