University of Wisconsin - Green Bay


Research Council

Research
Success

Heidi Sherman

Heidi Sherman

Spring 2014

"Hedging on Archaeological Heckles: A comparison of medieval heckles from Novgorod, Latvia, and York"

Grant in Aid of Research


Fall 2012

"Hedging on Heckles in Medieval Novgorod"

Grant in Aid of Research

Final Report: "I used my Fall 2012 GIAR funding travel to Novgorod, Russia to examine firsthand the medieval wooden flax tools found in the last fifty years of the Novgorod excavations. Because I grow and process flax, I am able to identify medieval flax working tools. There is one group of finds, wooden tooth blades, that have been identified by archaeologists as flax hackles – a tool used to straighten and detangle flax before it is spun into thread. More than 1,000 items have been identified as flax hackles. I suspected that this was an incorrect attribution, but needed to see the artifacts firsthand in order to make this determination. In mid-August, I travelled to Novgorod for one week and was given special access to the Novgorod Museum’s holdings. For four days, I sorted through hundreds of boxes of wooden artifacts to locate the tooth blades. The archives are not well organized – and this is something I discovered during this research trip. Of the over 1,000 tooth blades mentioned in publications, I was able to locate fewer than 100, even though I examined closely every box of wooden artifacts in the museum’s collection. This means that several hundred of the tooth blades deteriorated into dust after excavation because they were not properly conserved. None of this is mentioned in the archaeological literature. Also problematic is the lack of contextual information for the tooth blades, which makes it difficult to reconstruct where they were found and with which other artifacts. Although disappointing at first, I was able to photograph and measure enough tooth blades to determine that these could not be used for flax processing since the teeth are far too shallow to gain any traction with tangled fibers. I also was able to determine that in order to complete this project, I would need to spend two weeks in Moscow examining the field journals for the Novgorod excavations which provide information for wooden artifacts that have deteriorated due to lack of conservation I have used the results of my work to present papers at several important workshops and conferences: The UCLA Winter Slavic Workshop held in February 2013, and a paper delivered at the International Medieval Congress held at the University of Leeds, UK in early July, 2013. I am currently in the last stages of this project and will present a paper, to be published, at the Northern European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles to be held in Hallstatt, Austria in May 2014. Thank you for the financial support of my project."


Spring 2012

"From Flax to Linen: Reconstructing the process of pre-industrial fiber cloth production"

Grant for Integrating Research and Teaching


Spring 2011

"Flax to Linen in Medieval Novgorod"

Grant in Aid of Research


Spring 2011

"From Flax to Linen: Restructuring the process of pre-industrial natural fiber cloth production"

Grant for Integrating Research and Teaching


Spring 2009

"Barbarians Come to Market: Medieval Staraia Ladoga"

Grant in Aid of Research