Clothing is a household item that humans have used since ancient times. It is believed that Homo sapiens began to dress 80,000 to 170,000 years ago. Interestingly, some of the wardrobe items we are used to having an incredibly ancient history.
In some cases, the oldest specimens found by archaeologists do not differ much from modern ones.
Hesiod also described this garment according to the poet; in the 8th century B.C., the ancient Greeks wore something similar to modern socks on their feet; they were called “Piloi” and were made from matted animal hair. Some of the oldest socks found by archaeologists date back to a much later period – IV-V centuries A.D.
This pair, remarkably well preserved, was excavated from the burial ground of an ancient Greek colony located in central Egypt. The socks were intended to be worn with sandals; therefore, they have a sock divided into two parts. By the way, by 1000 A.D. e. socks in Europe became a symbol of wealth and were worn only by nobles; ordinary people got along with footcloths.
The oldest piece of this garment discovered by archaeologists dates back to around the 10th century B.C. That is, the oldest trousers in the world are already three thousand years old.
This find was made during the excavation of the Yanghai burial ground in China. Scientists believe that in antiquity, trousers began to spread as comfortable clothing for riding and were perceived by the Greeks and Romans as the clothing of the barbarians.
The oldest dress known today is over 5 thousand years old. This specimen, called the Tarkhan dress, was found in an Egyptian tomb in the 1900s. It was possible to determine his age only in 2016 using modern analysis reliably. Finding a well-preserved piece of ancient clothing is a massive success for archaeologists, so this dress is a unique data source for researchers.
Scientists suggested that it was intended for a slender young girl from a wealthy family since the model is decorated with numerous folds. Complex pleating was made on the sleeves; in general, a modern fashionista would probably be pleased. It isn’t easy to talk about the length of the dress, as the skirt, unfortunately, has not been preserved.
The history of this item of women’s dress also goes back several thousand years; it is known that women wore breast bands in the ancient kingdoms – Egypt, Greece and Rome. Scientists believed that in the Middle Ages in Europe, this comfortable accessory was forgotten; heavy and rigid corsets replaced it.
All the more surprising was the surprise of experts when in 2012, in the Austrian castle Lengberg, located in the state of Tyrol, archaeologists discovered the oldest surviving bra. This piece dates from around the middle of the 15th century and has a strikingly modern cut.
Typically, archaeologists’ prey is household items made of stone, ceramics or metal. Any other natural materials – wood, grass and fabric under normal conditions are not stored for more than several hundred years, so the finds of the oldest fibre samples are always precious.
Fort Rock Cave in Oregon in the United States presented scientists with a natural gift. Under a layer of volcanic ash, archaeologists have found numerous sand samples woven from the bark of wormwood, “preserved” and preserved due to a unique coincidence. After the radiocarbon analysis, the researchers experienced a real shock – the find was at least 10 thousand years old!
So these woven “slippers”, very reminiscent of Russian bast shoes, are by far the oldest examples of footwear. Surprisingly, they are made of such a fragile material, but at the same time, they have survived millennia. Samples of the oldest leather shoes found in the Areni-1 cave in southeastern Armenia are almost two times younger; they are credited with 5.5 thousand years.
Judging by this find, people began to decorate themselves earlier than wearing clothes. The oldest item that, according to experts, ancient people put on themselves for decoration is a set of eagle’s claws, discovered in 2015 during the autopsy of an old burial ground in Croatia.
The claws have traces of polishing; they have cuts and notches for tension; all this suggests that we have before us ancient jewellery, which, most likely, was connected in a necklace or bracelet.
Their age surprised the researchers – the find lay in the ground for about 130 thousand years! Before this discovery, the oldest were considered drilled shells found in Israel and Africa; they are about 100 thousand.