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The Eternity Code: Archaeology, Textiles and Preservation

Date Jun 11, 2014 - Sep 21, 2014
Curated by Shauna McCabe, Natalia Nekrassova, Roxane Shaughnessy and Sarah Quinton

Exhibition Overview

How have textiles – among the most fragile and vulnerable artifacts – survived over centuries? Learn about the materials and techniques found in archaeological textiles and the conditions that have allowed for their survival through this exhibition of Peruvian and Coptic textiles from the Textile Museum of Canada collection. Woven cloth, basketry, cordage and matting have been integral to every culture and every historical moment – Paleolithic to contemporary – providing direct evidence of social, political, and economic conditions over time and space. The Eternity Code explores early textile technologies and their roles in symbolic communication through ciphers, signs and patterns as well as their social functions in ceremony, ritual and everyday life.

Additional Information

By their very nature, archaeological fibres are among the most fragile, extremely sensitive to environmental conditions. In 2013, the Textile Museum of Canada began research and development of new approaches to the conservation and storage of archaeological textiles to ensure enduring access to valuable artifacts of global heritage for future generations. Innovations introduced into the exhibition demonstrate the science of conservation as well as state-of-the-art advances in archaeological textile storage developed by the Textile Museum of Canada to provide the essential care and security of some of the most valuable and cryptic of human evidence.

Curated by Shauna McCabe, Natalia Nekrassova, Roxane Shaughnessy and Sarah Quinton and organized by the Textile Museum of Canada. Archaeological storage upgrades undertaken with the support of the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Related Programs and Events

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Conserving Ancient Textile History
Third Wednesday in June, July, August and September
Visit The Eternity Code, meet our conservation team and learn about the oldest textiles in the TMC’s collection. This is a special opportunity to observe new developments in the care and storage of archaeological textiles.

Free with admission.

Textile Seminar: Archaeological Textiles
Wednesday July 23 at 6:30 pm
Join curator Roxane Shaughnessy and conservator Hillary Anderson behind the scenes to explore archaeological textiles from the TMC’s vaults. Learn about the symbolism encoded in ancient Peruvian textiles and the meaning of their patterns and structures in this hands-on seminar.

TMC Members $20; General admission $25. Space is limited, advance tickets required. Call 416-599-5321 x2228 to purchase.

Public Talk: Why slash apart a mummy? Death and Destruction at La Real, Peru
Wednesday August 13 at 6:30 pm
Join Justin Jennings, Curator of New World Archaeology at the ROM, as he discusses the fascinating ancient mystery of La Real, Peru, where 1400 years ago people carefully bundled up their dead into mummies. Then, after the work was completed, they ripped them apart.

TMC Members and Full-time students Free; General admission $15. Call 416-599-5321 x2228 to purchase.

Talking Points: A Special Conversation and Cocktail Reception with Jessica Lindsay Phillips
Wednesday August 27 at 6:30 pm
Lindsay Phillips who will speak about her passion for collecting antiquities, memorabilia and tribal arts and her partnership with the world-renowned collector, the late William “Billy” Jamieson, as well as her role in CBC’s Four Rooms and History Television’s Treasure Trader programs. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served.

TMC Members $20; General admission $25. Space is limited, advance tickets required. Call 416-599-5321 x2228 to purchase.

Exhibition Tour
Wednesday September 3 at 6:30 pm
Join curators Natalia Nekrassova and Roxane Shaughnessy as they highlight key artifacts in the exhibition and clues to understanding the textiles’ symbols, patterns and structures.

Free with admission.

Mantel panel fragment, 

Peru, Pre-Spanish, Late Intermediate Period to Late Horizon, 1350 - 1540, T2005.17.6
Fragment, Peru, Pre-Spanish, Late Intermediate Period (1000-1476), T84.0285
Roundel, Egypt, 600 - 799
Tunic, Egypt, 600-899, T88.0057
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Installation view (2014) Photo: Jill Kitchener