Nets, Gauges, and Weights: More on Formative Period Gulf Coast Textiles and Technologies

Author(s): Billie Follensbee

Year: 2017


While considerable research has been conducted on the importance of textiles in Mesoamerica, little study has been done on textiles among Formative Period cultures such as the Gulf Coast Olmec. This is in great part because direct evidence of early textiles is scanty, consisting only of a fabric-impressed clay sherd, some hand-formed spindle whorls, and fragments of cordage and woven mats. As noted in my recent publications, however, depictions of textiles in Olmec sculpture provide additional material for analysis, and further evidence can be found in the re-examination of small stone artifacts recovered from Gulf Coast sites. Close analysis has revealed, for example, that objects previously identified as "bloodletters" much more likely served as functional weaving picks and awls, and that "spoons," in their original, long-tailed form, closely resemble and function well as small weaving battens. Most recently, my research has confirmed through testing and replication studies that perforated limenite blocks most likely served as weights for fishing nets, and that greenstone artifacts may have served as gauges for making nets of different types. All together, these data reveal much about the making and use of ancient textiles, and that textiles held considerable importance for these Formative Period cultures.

Cite this Record

Nets, Gauges, and Weights: More on Formative Period Gulf Coast Textiles and Technologies. Billie Follensbee. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431866)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15116