2,000-Year-Old 'Shroud of Gothenburg' Goes on Display in Peru
A rare, 2000-year-old funeral shroud went on display at a museum in Lima, Peru. The pre-Incan, fragile textile is part of Paracas textiles that Sweden is returning to Peru.
The Shroud of Gothenburg has over 80 hues of blue, green, yellow and red - which are woven in a pattern of 32 frames, according to BBC. The shroud is one among the several Paracas textiles that were discovered on the Paracas Peninsula in the 1920s. Some 89 of these ancient shrouds are with the Gothenburg City Museum.
The ancient textiles were stolen by Swedish consul Sven Karell some 80 years ago, The Associated Press reported.
"Despite being more than 2,000 years old, the colours of the Paracas textiles are still fantastic and well preserved. The natural colours of pure Alpaca yarn range from grey, white and beige to brown and black. The yarn was dyed and as a result of the Alpaca wool fibres absorbing dye better than cotton fibres, most of the coloured segments in the textiles are wool fibres," according to Sweden's National Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg.
The Paracas textiles were used to wrap the dead. As the Paracas people buried their dead in dry, cold, salty deserts, the shroud remained well-preserved. In fact, the textile started deteriorating due to the change in moisture and UV light when it was moved to the Swedish museum.
According to Krzysztof Makowski, archaeologist at the University of Warsaw, textiles are extremely fragile. "If you wanted to find a Roman textile, you won't find anything because nothing was preserved," Makowski told The Associated Press.
"Across the world, the discoveries of textiles of this age are much rarer than any precious metal. Textiles are very fragile. There are very few countries in the world that have conserved fabrics. Peru is one of them," said Makowski, The Associated Press reports. Makowski studied the ancient fabric while at the Catholic University of Peru.
The Shroud of Gothenburg is displayed at The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History. Sweden is expected to return another 85 textiles by 2021, BBC reported.
Textiles and rope fragments dating back to some 12,000 years ago were found in a Peruvian cave, a study published in 2011 had reported. According to the University of Cambridge, Peru has the longest and most continuous textile record in the world. It is said that when the Spanish went to Peru in search of gold, the Incans offered the Spanish conquistadores their most prized items - the textiles. The dry, arid region of coastal Peru has preserved delicate fabric over thousands of years.