An ERC Horizon 2020 Project

Our aim is to integrate ancient weaving into the history of science and technology, especially digital technology. The project encompasses the investigation of ancient sources as well as practices and technological principles of ancient weaving. We set up a PENELOPEan laboratory where we detect the models and topologies of weaves and develop codes to make them virtually explorable.


The PENELOPE project builds on the hypothesis that there was a significant but tacit contribution of textile technology involved in the advent of science in ancient Greece. The philosopher and sociologist of science Bruno Latour recently claimed that technologies require an original mode of existence that accounts for their particular form of detour. We propose the technological labyrinth of threads in weaving as a paradigm for this mode. In contrast to the well-known but insufficient idea of hylemorphism (a form/idea applied to matter) we suggest the concept of penemorphism (a co-existence of shifting and un-shifting threads, “pene” in Greek) that enables to describe the integration of various levels and elements that are included in each and every technology, especially the digital ones.