Threads from the Present and the Past Come Together in Smithsonian Collections

Author(s): Edward Jolie

Year: 2018


In North America, some of the largest and most well preserved archaeological collections of perishable artifacts, including objects such as string, nets, baskets, textiles, mats, and sandals, are curated by the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of Natural History. Generally poor preservation of these items has challenged interested researchers to recover as much information as possible from them, meaning that even some of the very early, minimally documented assemblages can make important contributions. At the Smithsonian’s NMNH and NMAI, the availability of such material, combined with extensive collections of ethnographic weavings, facilitates engagement with both ancient and contemporary weaving traditions in ways that helps maximize what we can learn from the limited archaeological record. Drawing on long-term work with Smithsonian collections, this presentation considers first the insights obtained from a study of little-known historic Plains coiled gambling baskets with implications for understanding the precontact origins of that complex. Second, I review results of research on prehispanic Chacoan (ca. A.D. 850-1150) perishables from New Mexico that has yielded new data about these crafts in Chaco Canyon and beyond, and which also raises interesting new questions about recent Pueblo peoples’ weaving traditions.

Cite this Record

Threads from the Present and the Past Come Together in Smithsonian Collections. Edward Jolie. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443965)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21275