World’s oldest trousers found in 3,000 year-old Chinese tomb

World’s oldest trousers found in 3,000 year-old Chinese tomb

The straight-fitting legs and wide crotch of these ancient woollen trousers were likely designed for long journeys on horseback by nomadic warrior/herders in Central Asia.  Discovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, they are the oldest known examples of fitted trousers.  They would have provided their wearer with a degree of protection and freedom of movement, and were an innovative departure from the robes, tunics, and loincloths of ancient Europe and Asia.

A team led by Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin found the tombs of two trouser-wearing men at Yanghai, where the hot, dry climate has helped to preserve human remains, clothing and other organic material in over 500 ancient tombs excavated there since the early 1970s.  They were able to radiocarbon date fibres in the trousers to between 3,000 and 3,300 years old.

The two men were around 40 years old when they died, and they were buried along with a decorated leather bridle, a decorated horse tail, a wooden horse bit, a battle-axe, whip, bow sheath, and a leather bracer for arm protection.  Their trouser design comprised three pieces of wool cloth, one for each leg and one for the crotch, which were stitched together and fastened at the waist with strings.  They were finished with woven designs on the legs.

Beck and Wagner described the trousers as “a ground-breaking achievement in the history of cloth making.”

World's oldest trousers

Source: Science News

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