World’s Oldest Woven Garment

tarkhan-dress

The v-neck linen garment pictured above is a bit threadbare, but after all, it’s about 6,000 years old.  Excavated by Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1913 from a First Dynasty tomb at Tarkhan, an Egyptian cemetery located 50km south of Cairo, the dress was consigned to storage  with various other textiles until 1977, when the bundle was sent to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for conservation work.

Now on display at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London, the dress was made from three pieces of woven linen, with a natural pale gray stripe, and knife-pleated sleeves and bodice. Wear patterns in the cloth suggest that it was worn in life, not made as a grave  garment. Because the hem is missing, the original length of the dress is unknown, but its overall size suggests that it was worn by a slender teen or woman.

Interestingly,  the style of the Tarkhan dress  differs very little from styles of today. Perhaps someone will make a copy!

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