Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A very old basket

Today, I came across a news article from the Jerusalem Post. The article is about an archaeological find of a basket, with a lid, in a cave in the Judean Desert. The picture with the article shows the basket, looking not only complete, but in good condition with only a little visible damage.  One might buy such a thing for a few dollars or Euros at a yard sale or a used goods shop. 

But this basket is no thrift store find. It is 10,500 years old, made during the Neolithic period, and believed to be the world's oldest surviving basket.  The dry climate of the Judean Desert likely is responsible for preserving the basket so well.  It is still remarkable that it survived because there was evidence that looters had come within 10 cm of the basket, when they stopped digging for some unknown reason.

The basket is also very large.  Its capacity has been measured at 92 liters.  It was empty and closed when found, but a small quantity of soil was found inside.  The researchers hope that analyzing this soil will help identify the basket's original contents.  

Basket weaving is the cousin of, and believed to be the forerunner of, cloth weaving.  As such, it belongs to the chain of handwork that includes the history of cloth and of costume.

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