Is Cross‐Section Shape a Distinct Feature in Plant Fibre Identification?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionArchaeometry. 2021, 63 (1), 216-226. https://doi.org/10.1111/arcm.12604
Correct identification of textile fibres is an important issue in archaeology because the use of different materials can yield crucial information about the society that produced the textiles. Textiles made of plant and animal fibres can normally be easily distinguished, but to distinguish between different types of plant fibres, in particular different types of bast fibres, is difficult. Some years back it was shown that the features fibre diameter, lumen diameter, dislocation (nodes), and cross markings cannot be used on their own to distinguish between the typical bast fibres used for textiles in ancient Europe: flax, hemp, and nettle. Particularly not when only a few fibres are available for an examination so that statistical analysis is not possible, as is often the case in archaeology. The last two characterization features typically used to distinguish between bast fibres are cross‐section shape and lumen shape. In this paper, we present a study of retted and unretted fibres (in the stem) of flax, nettle, and hemp, and show that also cross‐section shape and lumen shape cannot be used as distinguishing features on their own.