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Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


A variety of textiles came from the excavation of a 17th century privy behind the Nanny House site on Cross Street, Boston, Massachusetts. The largest group of fragments is silk fabrics and ribbons, valuable since cloths of this fine fiber have not survived in other 17th-century New England archaeological sites. Comparison of the fine wool textiles from Boston with coarse wool fabrics used by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians in Connecticut and Narragansen Indians in Rhode Island reveal distinct differences in quality. Fabrics made from a combination of silk and wool, cotton, or linen show the variety of mixtures that were available for those who could afford them. Negative pseudomorphs of cotton and bast fibers preserved evidence of cellulosic products in a mineralized form previously unreported in New England. The family that lived at this site used high quality labrics with expensive weaves, mixtures, and fancy trims representing fashionable 17th-century dress.