It is not so simple to draw a reconstruction. Rather than speak in the abstract, I'll show you a drawing I did, and explain the process behind it, especially what I like to call anthropological analogy. In doing so, we can see both its promise and its limitations.
Of course, even these remarkable finds do not give us 100% certainty. There are still assumptions involved. For example, I assumed that the items people were buried with were representative of the items which they used in everyday life. I also assumed that these goods give some clue to the life of the common people, even though they are almost certainly from the tombs of the elite (there are nowhere near enough tombs to account for the entire population of Jericho for the time period).
In these burials there were no complete garments, though fragments of textile were preserved. What did they wear? Archaeology provides a clue: in about a quarter of the burials, the garments were fastened with toggle pins (long, straight pins with hole in the middle, used like a distant ancestor of the safety pin.) Of these, the most common location where the pins were found was near the left shoulder.
Mark Twain jokingly said, "There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." Seriously, though, this one clue gave me enough evidence to reconstruct a very plausible costume.
I knew this garment was fastened with a toggle pin at the shoulder. Since it was fastened with a pin, it was draped and not fitted. Supporting this conclusion, remaining textile fragments almost never show any signs of having been sewn.
The question I had to ask myself was, "What kind of draped garment is fastened at one shoulder?" Archaeology could not help me directly. I had to proceed on the basis of anthropological analogy. Fashions and customs change, but the human body and the physics of draping do not, so if I could find out how it is done today, it might have been done similarly back then.
The Greek peplos was fastened with pins at both shoulders, the chiton with none. The Indian sari seemed to have no fastenings. I researched my way round and round the world (via the Web). Finally I found Saris: An Illustrated Guide to Indian Draping by Chantal Boulanger. There I found that a type of sari fastened at one shoulder is worn by Khond women in Andhra Pradesh, India. Though they use a knot to fasten it, not a pin, the draping would work the same:
Providing a final check on my conclusions is this detail from an Egyptian carving. I have highlighted the woman's one-shouldered dress for emphasis.
In short, what archaeology cannot provide, reasonable analogy often can.
Next week, we'll look at another example of anthropological analogy which didn't lead in such a clear direction.