Wood and Plant Fiber Fabric

Image of Wood and Plant Fiber Fabric
Prehistoric fashion

This carbonized, woven fabric was recovered in 1974 during archaeological excavations at the Newbridge site in Greene County, Illinois, by Northwestern University. Perhaps part of a fringed skirt, the fabric is approximately 1150 to 1450 years old, dating from the early portion of the Late Woodland period. Its horizontal elements are made from the inner bark of basswood or willow, while vertical elements consist of twisted plant-fiber bundles. The fabric exhibits an over-one, under-one weaving technique. It was preserved at the bottom of a grass-lined pit that may have been originally used for storage. Both the pit liner and the construction of a clay-lined hearth above the fabric protected it from the elements and led to the unusual preservation of such fragile remains.

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