Wrapping and Unwrapping Material Culture: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives

Author(s): Susanna Harris

History | Decorative Art

This innovative volume challenges contemporary views on material culture by exploring the relationship between wrapping materials and practises and the objects, bodies and places that define them. Using examples as diverse as Egyptian mummies, Celtic tombs, Native American ceremonial bundles, baby swaddling and contemporary African textiles, the dozen archaeologist and anthropologist contributors show how acts of wrapping and unwrapping are embedded in beliefs and thoughts of a particular time and place. These context specific, cultural and technical acts offer a new lens on material culture and its relationship to cultural meaning.


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Susanna Harris is British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She is researching the relationship between textiles and animal skins in prehistoric Europe and the role of cloth-type materials as cloth cultures.

Laurence Douny is a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow based at the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has been working over the past 10 years in the Dogon region of West Africa on earth works. She is now conducting research on silk embroidery and woven textiles throughout West Africa.


  • Chapter 1. Wrapping and unwrapping, concepts and approaches, Laurence Douny & Susanna Harris

  • Part I: Wrapping and unwrapping the living

  • Chapter 2. Aspects of baby wrappings: swaddling, carrying and wearing, Nancy Ukai Russell

  • Chapter 3. Wrapping and tying ancient Egyptian New Kingdom dresses, Janet Johnstone

  • Chapter 4. Re-conceptualising shapes and bodies; Conservation of an English eighteenth century court mantua for the V&A Museum Galleries, Titika Malkogeorgou

  • Chapter 5. Wrapping/unwrapping the body: lace, magic, and modernity, Nicolette Makovicky

  • Part II: Wrapping and unwrapping the dead

  • Chapter 6. Wrapping the dead: the Bronze Age mound burials of southern Scandinavia through a wrapping analysis, Susanna Harris

  • Chapter 7. Wrapped up for safe keeping: 'wrapping' customs in Early Iron Age Europe, Margarita Gleba

  • Chapter 8. Wrapping as an element of early Celtic burial customs: The princely grave from Hochdorf and the cultural context, Johanna Banck-Burgess

  • Chapter 9. Wrapping the wrapped; the development of minimal conservation of ancient human wrapped mummies from the region of the Nile, Barbara Wills

  • Part III: The materiality of wrapping: materials, places, and objects

  • Chapter 10. Wild silk textiles of Dogon people of Mali: wrapping and unwrapping material identities, Laurence Douny

  • Chapter 11. Unveiling clay and metal. Contexts and uses of Mesopotamian textile wrappings, Agnes Garcia-Ventura & Mireia Lopez-Bertran

  • Chapter 12. Wrapped in Images: body metaphors, petroglyphs and landscape in the island world of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Karina Croucher & Colin Richards

  • Index

  • About the Authors

General Fields

  • : 9781611328875
  • : Left Coast Press Inc
  • : Left Coast Press Inc
  • : June 2014
  • : United States
  • : June 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Susanna Harris
  • : Hardback
  • : 930.1
  • : 304