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Invitation to Textile Artists

This project challenges textile artists from around the world to produce a repeating spiral design found on an ancient papyrus using historic materials and techniques. The drawing was discovered in 1927 in Karanis, Egypt, a 3rd-4th century CE Roman period town.

The spiral design is a unique artifact. It is the only known representational papyrus recovered from a scientifically excavated site. This drawing was found in a house that was comparatively rich,  with over 500 objects from daily life including textile fragments, weaving materials and textile implements.

Although we have several examples of spiral designs on various media from Karanis, the spiral motif is not confined to late antique Egypt. There are many examples of spiral designs in ancient and modern cultures from around the world. In a broad sense, Spiral Textile is a testimony to the importance and continuity of certain motifs over time.

Participation Benefits

  • – Learn about ancient materials and techniques in a community setting.
  • – Interpret the spiral design to create touch samples.
  • – Display your work in a traveling exhibition in North America and Europe.
  • – Compete for awards with winners gifted to the University of Michigan.
  • – Contribute to historic textile research.