The PENELOPE project aims at integrating ancient weaving into the history of science and technology, especially digital technology. It encompasses the investigation of ancient sources (texts and images) as well as practices and technological principles of ancient weaving. Based on the fact that weaving is a digital art/technology from the very beginning, we explore the technological principles and the tacit knowledge involved in the patterning process by setting up a PENELOPEan laboratory where we (1) detect the models and topologies of weaves (ancient and modern), (2) develop codes to make them virtually explorable, and (3) compare different types of coding and their scope with regard to their dependence on specific systems.
The blog will present the ERC Consolidator Grant project PENELOPE (project no. 682711) to the academic as well as interested general public. The project is situated at the Research Institute for the History of Technology and Science at Deutsches Museum, Munich. It is expected to start in October 2026 and will last 5 years. The interdisciplinary research team consists of Ellen Harlizius-Klück (Principal Investigator, philosopher, artist, mathematician), Alex McLean (Postdoc, programmer for the Arts, Sheffield), Giovani Fanfani (Postdoc, Classical philologist, Helsingborg) and former team member (February 2017 – June 2019) Flavia Carraro (Postdoc, anthropologist, ethnologist, Florence).