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Is Shirlastain a reliable tool in the identification of archaeological textiles?

Deandra de Looff, a student of the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, is researching how Shirlastain can be used in archaeological research. The research is carried out in order to ascertain whether the use of Shirlastain (a chemical substance, commercially available, the exact composition of which is kept a secret) could possibly be a fast, basic and reliable identification tool for different types of fibers, such as wool, flax and hemp. The research consists of making replicas of historical textiles, using ancient spinning, weaving and dyeing techniques, and subsequently using a microscope to study whether Shirlastain can still identify the different fibers after their processing. The research is part of an internship at the TRC.


TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Gallery exhibition, 3 April - 29 June: From Kaftan to Kippa

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

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Financial gifts

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
Financial donations can also be made via Paypal: