The earliest Near Eastern wooden spinning implements

Dafna Langgut, Naama Yahalom-Mack, Simcha Lev-Yadun, Eitan Kremer, Micka Ullman, Uri Davidovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A unique set of circumstances has preserved a group of rare wooden artefacts deep within burial caves in the southern Levant. Identified as spindles and distaffs, they are fashioned from tamarisk wood and date to the Late Chalcolithic period. Analysis suggests that these implements were used to spin flax fibres, and they provide the earliest evidence for two distinct spinning techniques, drop spinning and supported spinning (with rolling on the thigh). One wooden spindle with the whorl still in place is the oldest such tool to survive intact in the Near East. The lead forming the whorl may have originated in Anatolia, and it is evidence, perhaps, of early long-distance trade.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)973-990
Number of pages18
Issue number352
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2016.


  • Chalcolithic
  • Near East
  • distaff
  • lead
  • southern Levant
  • spindle
  • spinning
  • whorl
  • wood implements


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