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Old November 10th, 2012, 03:32 PM   #1

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When did hominids start wearing clothes?

Was Homo sapiens the first to wear clothes?
What are the oldest archaeological finds on this?
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Old November 10th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #2

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No idea, but very interesting question!
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Old November 10th, 2012, 03:35 PM   #3

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Oh, well I believe Neanderthals wore clothes, judging from how they are depicted in documentaries.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 03:46 PM   #4

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Originally Posted by Inc View Post
Oh, well I believe Neanderthals wore clothes, judging from how they are depicted in documentaries.
And also judging from where they lived during the last Ice Age...
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Old November 10th, 2012, 04:05 PM   #5

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Considering that documentaries are a fairly new invention, I would not give them too much credence regarding wardrobe choices of pre-historic peoples.
I would rather go with the “necessity is the mother of invention” theory. That means, those who needed clothing as protection from the elements were the first ones. Body taboos and the compulsion to be covered to a culturally acceptable level comes later.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 07:58 PM   #6

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Click the image to open in full size.
This is a piece of linen from 5000BC, the Nile valley. Linen preserves well and the climatic conditions of Egypt are good for preserving organic material.

The oldest textile fragment in the world. | ouno

30 thousand year-old dyed flax fibres (the base of linen) were found in a cave in Georgia (Sakartvelo -the Eurasian country, not the american state) in 2009.

Click the image to open in full size.

The author writes that "the fibers were knotted and dyed — black, gray, turquoise and even pink." But the fibres were probably not used for clothing...

Fibers Probably Not Used For Clothing

We tend to think of clothing when we think of woven materials. But Barber says woven clothing was probably not around 30,000 years ago.
"There's no real evidence they wore clothing," she says. Figurines and other representations usually showed people naked. "If you were cold, you'd pull the pelt that came off of last night's dinner around your shoulders."

Instead, she says, woven clothing evolved not so much for comfort as for fashion — and it was fashion with a social purpose.
"It's not until you start to get haves and have-nots that people start differentiating themselves by, 'Look what I'm wearing as opposed to what you're wearing or not wearing.' "
So how does she explain the pink and turquoise dyes on those ancient fibers?

"We love color — our brains go 'zing' when they see color," she says.

These Vintage Threads Are 30,000 Years Old : NPR
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Old November 10th, 2012, 08:30 PM   #7

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The adoption of clothing has been dated by research on human body lice.
The common head louse is different from the body louse and genetic research suggests that they diverged between 150.000 and 170,000 years BP, that is around the last ice age but one and before the exodus from Africa.
Anthropologists have speculated that clothing may have originated in the idea of wearing animal skins as a disguise when approaching animals on the hunt and then discovering that they were comfortable in cooler weather.
Tailoring though had to wait a while, the oldest bone needles are dated around 15,000 BP and Amarni and Boss couldn't get going before 8000BP when spinning and weaving seems to have taken off in the middle east.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 09:55 PM   #8

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Some clever chap/chapess invented the bone needle, that's what got us through the ice age. With that simple invention we were able to make trousers, shoes and sleeves for coats. Trying to survive in a snowstorm with an improvised poncho won't get ya very far.

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The first known humans to make clothing, Neanderthal man, survived from about 200,000 B.C.E. to about 30,000 B.C.E. During this time the earth's temperature rose and fell dramatically, creating a series of ice ages throughout the northern areas of Europe and Asia where Neanderthal man lived. With their compact, muscular bodies that conserved body heat, Neanderthals were well adapted to the cold climate of their day. But it was their large brain that served them best. Neanderthal man learned to make crude but effective tools from stone. Tools such as spears and axes made Neanderthals strong hunters, and they hunted the hairy mammoths, bears, deer, musk oxen, and other mammals that shared their environment. At some point, Neanderthals learned how to use the thick, furry hides from these animals to keep themselves warm and dry. With this discovery, clothing was born.

Evidence of the very first clothing is mostly indirect. Archeologists (scientists who study the fossil and material remnants of past life) discovered chipped rock scrapers that they believe were used to scrape meat from animal hides. These date to about 100,000 B.C.E. Archeologists believe that these early humans cut the hides into shapes they liked, making holes for the head and perhaps the arms, and draped the furs over their bodies. Soon their methods likely grew more sophisticated. They may have used thin strips of hide to tie the furs about themselves, perhaps in the way that belts are used today.

Cro-Magnon man, considered the next stage in human development, emerged around forty thousand years ago and made advances in the clothing of the Neanderthals. The smarter Cro-Magnon people learned how to make fire and cook food, and they developed finer, more efficient tools. Sharp awls, or pointed tools, were used to punch small holes in animal skins, which were laced

together with hide string. In this way they probably developed the earliest coverings for the body, legs, head, and feet. It is thought that the first assembled piece of clothing was the tunic. A tunic is made from two pieces of rectangular animal hide bound together on one short side with a hole left for the head. This rough garment was placed over the head and the stitched length lay on the shoulders, with the remainder hanging down. The arms stuck through the open sides, and the garment was either closed with a belt or additional ties were placed at the sides to hold the garment on the body. This tunic was the ancestor of the shirt.
One of the most important Cro-Magnon inventions was the needle. Needles were made out of slivers of animal bone; they were sharpened to a point at one end and had an eye at the other end. With a needle, Cro-Magnon man could sew carefully cut pieces of fur into better fitting garments. Evidence suggests that Cro-Magnon people developed close-fitting pants and shirts that would protect them from the cold, as well as shawls, hoods, and long boots. Because they had not learned how to tan hides to soften them, the animal skin would have been stiff at first, but with repeated wearings it would become very soft and comfortable. Jacquetta Hawkes, author of The Atlas of Early Man, believes that Cro-Magnon clothes approached those of modern Eskimos in their excellence of construction.

Much of what is known about early clothing is a patchwork of very little evidence and good guesses. Only fragments of very early clothing have survived, so archeologists have relied on cave drawings, carved figures, and such things as the imprint of stitched-together skins in a fossilized mud floor to develop their picture of early clothing. The discovery of the remains of a man who died 5,300 years ago in the mountains of Austria, near the border with Italy, helped confirm much of what these archeologists had discovered. The body of this male hunter had been preserved in ice for over five thousand years, and many fragments of his clothing had survived.

Archeologists pieced together his garments, and they found that the iceman, as he became known, wore a complex outfit. Carefully sewn leggings covered his lower legs, and a thin leather loincloth was wrapped around his genitals and buttocks. Over his body the man wore a long-sleeved fur coat that extended nearly to his knees. The coat was sewn from many pieces of fur, with the fur on the outside. It was likely held close by some form of belt. On his feet the man wore animal hide short boots, stitched together with hide and stuffed with grass, probably to keep his feet warm in the snow. On his head the man wore a simple cap of thick fur. Though the iceman discovered in Austria appeared much later than the earliest Cro-Magnon man, the way his clothing was made confirmed the basic techniques and materials of early clothing. The ravages of time have destroyed most direct evidence of the clothing of early man, however.


Corbishley, Mike. What Do We Know about Prehistoric People? New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1994.

Fowler, Brenda. Iceman: Uncovering the Life and Times of a Prehistoric Man Found in an Alpine Glacier. New York: Random House, 2000.

Goode, Ruth. People of the Ice Age. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1973.

Hawkes, Jacquetta. The Atlas of Early Man. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976.

Lambert, David, and the Diagram Group. The Field Guide to Early Man. New York: Facts on File, 1987.

Wilkinson, Phil, and Nick Merriman, eds. Early Humans. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.

Read more: http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/f...#ixzz2BtYPFVpv

Last edited by Earl_of_Rochester; November 10th, 2012 at 10:01 PM.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:28 AM   #9
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I second the idea to look at the archeological record for needles, not the fabrics etc. themselves.

Apparently there are bone needles from 30 000 BC discovered in what is today Russia, and finds from a site (Potok Cave) in Slovenia, that might be even older. More digging should be expected to reveal more. These needles so far at least don't seem associated with the Neanderthals.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:48 AM   #10

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No. Homo heidelbergensis or Homo antecessor is the most likely candidate to wear ''proper'' clothing since they wear the first ones in Europe. The colds of Europe should have driven them to do so.
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