This is by no means an exhaustive listing. But it should give you some starting places to begin your research, or to add to your current research. Eventually, I will have this annotated as I get things translated and assimilated.
If you know of any resources that not listed here, please put them in comments. Thanks!
And here’s a gratuitous picture because it’s purty.
Since I am considering starting to fight heavy, I though I’d post about armor. Like much of Merovingian material culture, it can be difficult to pin down. Here are some websites with information.
Byzantine Lamellar Armour: Conjectural Reconstruction of a Find from the Great Palace in Istanbul, Based on Early Medieval Parallels
Here’s an image of a young man’s (child’s) helmet found in a burial at Cologne Cathedral.
Here is a MIGRATION PERIOD IRON BANDED HELMET, which you can buy for just $37,500!
Here is a An Exceptional Migration Period (Viking) Bronze and Silver Helmet (5th-6th Century C.E.).
We are lucky to have a few extant pieces of material from the Merovingian period. At the Albert Bono Museum in Chelles, France (just 15 minutes from Paris) is a wonderful collection of clothing and personal items from two Merovingian woman, Queen Bathilde and Abbess Bertille.
Today, we are looking at the coiffure of Bathilde. She had long blonde hair that was gathered to a single point an the nape, and then divided into two strands. The hair was not braided, but rather wrapped in a silk cord, 4.91 meters long. The silk cord was composed of a central core of reeled silk (not spun), 4.91 meters long, with intervals wrapped by spun (possibly two-ply) silk threads and gold-foil wrapped silk. The colors of the wrapping silk are red, yellow and green.
Here is a conjecture of what it possibly looked like.
Here are some images of the actual hair. The first one is a close-up of a wrapped section of the cord.
This is a section that shows how the hair was gathered and wrapped by the cord.
This is a section of the silk fibers with sections wrapped by silk thread and gold-wrapped threads. The gold was crimped around the hair strands to help hold the hair and cords in place.
I’ve read that there have been chemical analyses on her hair, but haven’t been able to find the references in time to add into this post. (I’ll add it when I do find it) I seem to remember the analysis showed the presence of cannabis and chamomile. (I could be confusing Bathilde with Arnegunde who was buried with a hemp cloth). The presence of cannabis in hair does not necessarily mean that she was a toker, although that has been claimed by some. It is possible that cannabis oil and chamomile were used as hair dressing.
Over the hair a veil would have been worn, and that is a topic for another discussion.
In studying archaeological textiles, it helps to track back the the technology and social influences on your chosen fiber culture. For the Merovingians, their direct descendants were both the vast Roman linen estates in Gaul and the Sassanian silk weaving houses. John Peter Wild wrote a book on Roman textiles and also inspired others to write another book on the influence Roman textiles.
J. P. Wild. (1970) Textile Manufacture in the Northern Roman Provinces. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
and this is the book it inspired…
Penelope Walton Rogers, Lise Bender Jorgensen, Antoinette Rast-Eicher, (2001). The Roman Textile Industry and its Influence. A Birthday tribute to John Peter Wild. Exeter: Oxbow Books, 2001.
Going back even further, we have a book on Pre-Roman Italian textile production. (Yes, the author of the previous review)
Gleba, M. (2008): Textile production in pre-Roman Italy. Oxford: Oxbow.
And while we’re on the subject of ancient Roman textile production, here’s a decent bibliography which should give you a good start. It’s not exclusively Roman or Merovingian (but we won’t hold that against them!)
and look over there! Sassanian textiles!
Contact with the Byzantine Empire was robust, especially during the later part of the Merovingian period. Here is a website that details how to reconstruct an extant Byzantine shirt from an archaeological find in Turkey. I wish we had more extant garments to base our research on.
Article in French.
Here’s an abstract. Read more here.
A rescue excavation in advance of road building near Richelieu (department of the Indre-et-Loire) was carried out in October 2002. It brought to light some 35 graves belonging to a Merovingian cemetery. Observations made during the fieldwork allowed the understanding of the chronological and spatial organisation of the remains. They also showed the existence of several types of burials (sarcophagus, wood and mixed stone and wood-lined burial pits) as well as a sort of stretcher used to carry the body.Although many sites of this period have been discovered and published, well studied examples are rare. The dating of the small finds and the comparison with other sites both within and outside of the region have given a better understanding of Merovingian burial practices in this area on the border of Poitou and Touraine.