Exhibition 'Fashion in ancient societies’

Curated by Tara Chapron (Sorbonne Université & Maison Française d'Oxford)


4 May - 18 June 2022, Maison Française d'Oxford
Mo - Fr, 9am - 5pm


Costume provides information about a person in a reactive way, it tells a story and creates a language that nudity cannot offer. Describing fashion in Bronze Age societies can help us understand the views of these protohistoric societies, i.e. without writing.


The Bronze Age 

Around 2300 BC, in Western Europe, the discovery of a copper and tin alloy opened up a new period in history, the so-called Bronze Age. The discovery of this alloy led not only to technical but also to social changes. The cultures in the vicinity of the mining centres exerted considerable influence on the neighbouring groups and gave them commercial and political power. Four metallurgical provinces stand out in Europe: the Atlantic province, the Continental province, the Mediterranean province and the Nordic province. The Nordic province (Denmark, Sweden, Holland, North Germany) has no metal deposits, but in exchange for its amber, it obtains tools, copper and tin to create original works.


An Elite on the Move

The heroes of the Bronze Age are similar to Homer’s characters who, like Odysseus, set out far and wide to return victorious. The daughter of Egtved is an example of these great travellers. According to dendrochronological analysis, she died at the age of eighteen in the summer of 1370 BC and travelled a long distance before ending her days in southern Jutland. She would have grown up far away from Denmark and would have been a witness to the alliances between Europe and the Middle East. The Bronze Age elite may have been itinerant, maintaining a network of exchanges and thus using a kind of “universal language”.


Défilé des temps passés