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Rebecca Nelson (2007)

Archaeological Experiment: Re-Creating a Nasca Textile

My project involves experimental archeology. I am trying to duplicate an ancient textile artifact in order to learn more about how it was made. I am in the process of recreating a fringed neckline border from the Early Intermediate Period of the Nasca culture of southern Peru, 100-300 B.C.E., housed in the collection of the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, Canada.

I have done research about the Nasca, the fibers and techniques they used to make their garments, and the meaning that their textiles held for them. I visited the Textile Museum of Canada in June, 2005 to view the textile up close. The assistant curator had laid the textile out for me to examine visually: it is too delicate to handle except for conservation. It was a very exciting experience for me to be able to look at a nearly two thousand year old textile up close, without glass or any protective material covering it. In my project, I have been informed by the techniques of experimental archaeology, and the experience of reproducing an ancient artifact will be a great foundation for me in future experimental archeology and study of textiles. I will be presenting a paper on my project at the Textile Society of America's biennial symposium in the fall of 2006.

Through financial and academic support, the Presidential Scholars Program has allowed me to explore undergraduate research and gain experiences I could never have had without the program's backing. To learn more about my project, visit my website at