Saturday, February 20, 2016
The survival of highly perishable textiles in the archaeological record is exceptional; the survival of complete, or almost complete, articles of clothing even more so. It is therefore remarkable that a garment has been dated by University College London researchers to between 5,100 and 5,500 years old. That places it way back to the First Dynasty of ancient Egypt, and possibly even earlier.
Known now as the Tarkhan dress, it was originally discovered in 1912 in an ancient Egyptian cemetery near Cairo. Archaeologists didn’t think much of it at the time, letting it languish in a “great pile of linen cloth.” Then, upon its rediscovery in 1977, it was sent to the Victoria and Albert Museum for conservation and its true age was revealed. It is the world's oldest dress and the oldest woven garment known to archaeologists.