Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Oldest Textile Find

The arts of making plant fibers into thread and then weaving the thread into cloth are very old. How old?

According to this article in Current World Archaeology, archaeologists found "numerous short lengths" of spun flax thread in the soil inside a cave in the Republic of Georgia. These threads are estimated to be over 34,000 years old.

According to the article, some of the threads found in the Georgian cave are twisted in a manner that suggests that they had been used for sewing, while still other threads had been dyed, though the article does not specify how this fact was determined by the archaeologists or what dyestuffs might have been used. But the discovering archaeologists believe that these threads may be evidence for cloth manufacture, not simply a collection of threads that were used to fasten materials together.   Possibly the making of cloth goes back even longer than was previously thought.

Another recent Current World Archaeology article discusses other recent costume-related finds, including the world's oldest shoe and the world's oldest jewelry. I commend it to your attention as well.

P.S. Science Magazine has published a short article by the archaeologists who were responsible for the thread find. Their article may be read on line or downloaded in PDF form by following the link on this page. Doing so is free, but Science Magazine's website requires non-subscribers to register for a free account first.  If you register, and follow the link to the article, you will find comments by other scientists disputing the archaeologists' identification of the fibers they found as flax.  Nothing is said in these comments about the archaeologists' other suggestions as to the potential use of these fibers.


  1. Oh wow, thanks for posting this. I love the paleolithic, and the thing that fascinates me the most is how sophisticated they were.

  2. You're welcome! I am continually fascinated by the sophistication of work done with prehistoric technologies myself.