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Insights into the ongoing Flax Year at the Israeli Forum for Experimental Archaeology

The Forum for Experimental Archeology in Israel is taking part in the flax growing project "A Year On The Field" for the first time this year. Evidence for linen indicates that it was used in the Land of Israel throughout history. The earliest archaeological findings in the Land of Israel date to the pre-pottery Neolithic period, i.e., 10,000 BP. Our group is engaged in various aspects of research on flax, but for the first time we are conducting the entire process from seed to thread and woven cloth. Beyond the experience itself, we are learning a lot about the stages entailed in this process and are grateful for the project's initiative.


On October 31, 2022, we sowed flax seed (50 grams) on a small plot (17 m x 1.5 m) in the Jerusalem Mountains area near Kibbutz Tzora. The plot was artificially watered part of the time and partially worked by school children. We manually harvested the stems on April 27, 2023, tied them together in piles and left them to dry until May 31, 2023. After drying, we removed the seeds, either using a ripple (coarse comb that peeled the seed from the stem) or by hand. Using the ripple device is highly effective and significantly shortens the process. On the same day we also cut the roots on the stems. On June 1, 2023, the stems were soaked in tubs of water for the retting process (the temperature ranges from 18 to 28 degrees Celsius. We then changed 10% of the water every three days in order to prevent algae growth. On June 18, 2023, we plan to take the stems out for further drying.



Sowing flax


The flax plot 10.2.23


The flax plot on 27.4.2023


Flax harvesting


Freshly harvested flax


Tied bundle after the harvest


Drying the flax in our laboratory in Yelin House near Jerusalem


Dry flax that ready for rippling


Dry flax stems before we separated the seedsand the ripple


Removed the seeds by the ripple.


Seed pods after rippling


The flax stems after rippling


Soaked stems in water for the retting processing


Text and pictures by the team of the forum.

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