Barbara Köstner

Fellowship Year: 


Project Title: 

Colourful Past: Nålbinding Objects from Late Roman Times in the ROM

The ROM Toronto hosts the biggest collection of nalbinding objects from Late Roman times. The research project carries on with Dorothy Burnham’s work: A detailed examination of the eleven nalbinding objects will reveal the information that lies beyond the thread count. The technical details and with them the look of the socks contain markers for sociological information like age, gender and wealth. Regional and chronological features will be examined as well. While the socks will be compared to objects in other collections, the mittens are outstanding objects without parallels, bringing new items to the wardrobe of Late Antiquity. Köstner studied the technical details of nålbinding production, tracing socio-cultural signs of age, gender and wealth and analyzing signs of regionality and chronology.

About the Fellow: 

Barbara Köstner is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Bonn in the Department of Christian Archaeology. Her thesis is entitled, “Complex weaving structures in the Roman Empire from Late Roman and Early Medieval times.”

Related Publications: 

“Wearing Socks in Sandals: The Height of Roman Fashion?” In Small Finds and Ancient Social Practices in the Northwest Provinces of the Roman Empire, edited by Stefanie Hoss and Alissa Whitmore. Oxford; Havertown, PA: Oxbow Books, 2016.

Lecture: “The Production of a Fashion Faux Pas: Making Socks for Sandals in Late Roman Times” (11 November 2017). Presented at the conference Cloth Cultures: Legacies of Dorothy K. Burnham, ROM.

Authored by: Kait Sykes

Authored by: Kait Sykes