The world’s oldest dress is a 5,000-year-old Egyptian Tarkhan

Thousands of years ago, people wore dresses by simply wrapping the body in such clothes. Many of these garments have survived till the present age as proof of their time.

The “Tarkhan” dress, however, which bears the name of the Egyptian village where it was first discovered in 1913, has exquisite stitchings contrary to research conclusions prior to its discovery.

The V-neck linen shirt with pleated sleeves and bodice was in outstanding condition considering its age, however there were folds at the elbows and armpits indicating that the clothing had once been worn.

It was precisely dated around seven years ago using the most recent radiocarbon dating method. The world’s oldest woven clothing, a linen dress with intricate detailing, is believed to date to between 3482 and 3103 B.C., according to researchers.

First discovery

During the second season of Sir Flinders Petrie’s excavations in 1913, at the location he named Tarkhan after, in a small settlement 30 miles south of Cairo, the clothing and other pieces of linen were discovered.

After the excavation, the pile of linen was delivered to the University College London for analysis, where it remained untouched for 65 years.

Tarkhan Dress / ©Petrie Museum Of Egyptian Archaeology, University College London

The dress features a weave with 22–23 warps per centimetre and 13–14 embroidery thread per centimetre, which resulted in a grey stripe in the warp that may be intended to add decoration.

The dress’ primary part was made of a 76 centimetre wide, straight piece of material. The dress’s original length cannot be determined because the hem is missing.

Second discovery

Conservationists at the Victoria and Albert Museum found the outfit again in 1977 while collecting and cleaning rags.

According to Alice Stevenson, curator of London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, garments discovered at archaeological sites are often no older than 2,000 years.

However, the Tarkhan Dress is older than 5,000 years and may have been longer when it was new, according to archaeologists.

READ ALSO: Explore ancient Egypt’s Pyramid of Cheops with virtual reality in Paris

Carbon dating

When the dress’s linen was examined in the 1980s using accelerator mass spectrometry, a new technique, it was thought to date to the late third millennium BC. Researchers, however, felt that this date was too broad.

In 2015, the radiocarbon facility at the University of Oxford examined a sample from the clothing itself that only weighed 2.24mg.

The findings indicated that the Tarkhan Dress dates to between 3482 and 3102 B.C., possibly even earlier than Egypt’s First Dynasty (ca. 3111–2906 B.C.).

The fabric was preserved by the researchers, who then exhibited it after stabilising it with a seam of crepeline silk. Due in large part to the age of the tomb in which it was discovered, it quickly gained recognition as the oldest garment ever made in Egypt and the oldest woven garment ever.

Source: New Agencies

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