In a small museum near Titusville, Florida (Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science), rests the oldest textile in existence in the whole world. The enigmatic people who wove the cloth lived in Florida at least 12,000 years ago; their work has survived because their village was long ago absorbed in a bog. The bog created perfect conditions for the preservation of fragile artifacts.
Now it might amaze you that Florida, which isn’t famous for its ancient history, should house the world’s oldest weaving.
But it’s weirder than that. . . because about one hundred miles north of Titusville, in St. Augustine, Florida, is the world’s oldest carpet rug. Known as the “cat rug” because it was woven from the fur of Egyptian cats, this rug was looted from an ancient Egyptian tomb and ended up in the antiquities market, where a Gilded Age businessman purchased it and brought it to St. Augustine as one of many trinkets to adorn in his personal castle. It hangs on the wall of the Zorayda Castle Museum now. A legend has grown around it, that if anyone ever steps on the rug that person will die. I imagine this legend is based on folklore surrounding the curse of the Egyptian pharaohs regarding looting of their tombs.
Now, there is no relationship between a modern rich man in St. Augustine and the ancient Windover people of Titusville. But somehow, two of the oldest textiles the human race has ever produced on the whole planet have ended up housed within 100 miles of each other.
I have made the point many times on this blog that we, collectively, are writing and living in our own stories. But it often seems that we have a greater mind helping us along, like a stage director. This mind is an obsessive archivist, and loves to throw things together based on spurious connections. It was thinking, “Here’s an old bit of weaving, well, let’s just put this other old one right next to it, shall we?” And we do.