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Natural dyes

The use of natural dyes on textiles and furniture.

The use of natural dyes was researched in case studies of textiles and furniture.

Cover of the publication on the Hallstatt project.

Cover of the publication on the Hallstatt project. 

This project supplied information on the history, manufacture, origin and original appearance of objects, which additionally could lead to a higher object valuation.


The Natural Dyestuffs project consisted of three sub-projects with the common objective of gathering knowledge through dye identification about the manufacture and context of objects and the associated use of natural dyes.

Archaeological textiles

Research into archaeological textiles, which included the examination of coloured textiles from the salt mines of Hallstatt (CINBA), the Odyssey project Reviving Rhenen and several smaller archaeology projects involving textiles from Finland, Estonia, Germany and the Netherlands. This project had an inventory component to determine the most important materials and was pioneering, as the research possibilities were not always familiar.
More than 500 textile fragments have been found in the Hallstatt salt mine. These have maintained a relatively good condition due to the low temperature, absence of light and a salty environment. In a continuation of previous research the Hallstatt FWF project (L431-G02) began in 2008, focusing on textile bands used to finish and decorate necklines or sleeves on clothing items. These bands are the most advanced examples of weaving and spinning techniques from the entire Hallstatt textile collection. The aim of the research was to analyse the historic techniques in order to reproduce them: these included dyeing, spinning and weaving with wool from the original sheep breeds. The scientific results were also used to inspire students of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna to create new textile designs.

Insect Dyes

Research into insect species as dyestuffs, in which several American and European species are compared. The project comprised historical sources research, gathering and analysing dye insects, making and analysing reconstructions, and object-based research. One important element was the development of Ultra High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (UPLC): a technique that is versatile for all dyes and specifically useful for insect dyes.


Research into technique and materials used in textiles from Lombardy between 1450 and the late 19th century, in collaboration with the Insituto per la Storia dell'Arte Lombarda (ISAL), Milan. Textiles have always been very important in this Italian region and also influential regarding material use throughout Europe. The ISAL project is the first of its kind in which developments in material use and techniques from one region over five centuries have been researched. This mainly concerns natural dyes: early synthetic dyes will be studied near the end of the project. The first two phases of the project have been completed and have led to a number of exhibitions and publications.