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Textile and Costume Museum
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Threads and Treads of the Past: Prehistoric Fabrics and Footwear from Louisiana and Missouri 6400 B.C. to 1200 A.D.

Exhibition Dates: April - August 1999

Threads and Treads of the Past featured prehistoric textile remains analyzed by researchers in the LSU Archaeological and Historic Textile Laboratory that were recovered from three archaeological sites: Arnold Research Cave in Callaway County, Missouri; Avery Island in Iberia Parish, Louisiana; and Bayou Jasmine in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana.  These textiles, which would have perished under normal environmental conditions, were preserved because of the special circumstances of their deposits: the dry natural bluff shelter of the Arnold Research Cave, the unique saline conditions found at Avery Island, and the constantly wet, anaerobic environment at the bottom of Bayou Jasmine.  Dated examples of footwear from Arnold Research cave documented more than 7000 years of footwear production at that site.  One example, dating to ca. 6265 B.C., is the oldest known example of North American footwear east of the Rocky Mountains.  Along with the footwear were numerous pieces of twisted, plied, and braided cordage, and twined fabrics that included a nearly complete bag (ca. 800 B.C.) made from rattlesnake master leaves (eryngium yuccifolium).  One dated example from Avery Island (ca. 2800 B.C.) is the oldest known flexible fabric from Louisiana and among the oldest in the Southeast.  The examples of fine braided cordage from Bayou Jasmine (ca. 1500 B.C.) varied in number of strands from 4 to 10 and are thought to have played an important part in prehistoric fishing technology. View the virtual scrapbook for this exhibition.

Read more on our past exhibitions