Decorated Roman Bone Spindle Whorl


A fine Roman bone spindle whorl with rare incised decoration to the underneath. The bone has been modelled into a hemisphere pierced through the centre, featuring two incised bands decorating the side. The underneath has been finely carved with three large circle and a cross with a cluster of three small circles at each end. Spindle whorls, usually made of bone, ceramic, wood or glass, were designed to increase or maintain the speed when using a spindle, and would have been possessed and used mostly by Roman women.

Date: Circa 1st-5th century AD
Condition: Fine, signs of ageing and minor chips to the surface.


SKU: LD-228 Category: Tags: , ,

Spindle whorls were useful accessory to the spindle; wool would have been twisted around the spindle then spun and left to drop pulling the fibres and creating yarn. The whorl would have been attached to the spindle helping to control the speed of the process. The weight of a whorl would determine the force applied while the diameter dictated the amount of twists performed during one spin. This technique for spinning dated from the Iron Age to the early post-medieval periods. In Roman society, women were tasked with clothing production; this has been testified by frescoes recovered from Pompeii, where women are shown hanging clothes to dry in a dye-shop.  In particular, an epigraphic inscription, dedicated to the Statlii family, mentions the quasillariae which was a group of all female spinners.

Weight 16.16 g
Dimensions W 4 x H 1.2 cm



Reference: For a similar item, The British Museum, item EA24594 .