While textiles rarely survive in the archaeological record, the dry desert tombs of Egypt have preserved large numbers from multiple eras. Yet despite a plethora of samples, the Coptic period of Egypt (the first millennium of the Christian era) is often overlooked in favor of the more studied periods of the ancient pharaohs and the Arab conquest.
In the mid-1900s, San Francisco Bay Area industrialist Carl Austin Rietz collected over 75 Coptic textile fragments, a collection which now resides at the California Academy of Sciences. In Looms and Textiles of the Copts, Diane Lee Carroll discusses the history, manufacturing techniques and motifs of Coptic-era textiles, using the Rietz collection as her study group.
Looms and Textiles of the Copts: First Millennium Egyptian Textiles in the Carl Austin Rietz Collection of the California Academy of Sciences was published as Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences, No. 11, San Francisco, California, 1988. 201 pages, 16 color plates, 98 black & white photographs. Soft cover. ISBN 0-295-96672-6.
I. The Coptic Weaver's Inheritance: Ancient Textile Technology
II. Coptic Textile Technology: The Literary and Archaeological Evidence
III. Coptic Textile Design: The Greek and Roman Sources
IV. Coptic Motifs: Some Philosophical Concepts
V. Significant Dates: The Historical Background
VI. The Rietz Coptic Textiles: An Illustrated Catalog