Ancient Egyptian Haute Couture: The Oldest Woven Garment in the World

woven garment
UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Archeologists determined that the famous “Tarkhan dress”, discovered in the 90s at an Egyptian tomb was sewn more than 5000 years ago.

This unique opportunity gives us a chance to look inside the Haute Couture of Ancient Egypt, the researchers wrote. They have determined that the dress was pale grey with a V-neck and small folds. Also it had beautiful pleated sleeves which points out the complexity of the ancient clothing designs. According to the scientists, the dress belonged to a young, slim woman from the high society because this kind of dress could be sewn only by craftsmen whose services would have cost a lot.

Unfortunately, the dress’s hemming has not been preserved therefore it is difficult to think about the original length. However, the scientists are certain that its appearance is worthy for today’s fashion.

UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Dr Alice Stevenson, Curator at the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, said:

“The survival of highly perishable textiles in the archaeological record is exceptional, the survival of complete, or almost complete, articles of clothing like the Tarkhan Dress is even more remarkable. We’ve always suspected that the dress dated from the First Dynasty but haven’t been able to confirm this as the sample previously needed for testing would have caused too much damage to the dress.

Although the result is a little less precise than is now routinely possible through radiocarbon dating, as the sample was so small, it’s clear that the linen for the dress was made at the cusp of the First Dynasty or even earlier.”

Researchers working under the management of Michael Dee of the University of Oxford have conducted a radiocarbon analysis on the fabric and discovered that it was in the tomb for more than 5000 years.

Now, that the dress’s age has been established, the researchers can state with confidence that this is the oldest dress preserved to this day.

The Tavern in France


Another group of archaeologists has made another discovery which can give us a notion about our ancestors’ life, but this time it is in France. They discovered an ancient tavern in Southern France in an area called Latara (La Tara). The remains of the building are around 2141 years old.

According to the author of the research, Benjamin Luley of Gettysburg University, the ancient tavern’s preserved part can give us priceless knowledge about the social and economy infrastructure of this area. The construction dates to the Roman conquest at the end of the 2nd century BC.

Initially, the researchers thought that they’ve discovered a bakery because they found three huge furnaces and an indoor grain mill. But later on they discovered another room with benches against the walls.

There, the archeologists dug up fragments of big trays, along with food leftovers – different types of fish, sheep and cattle bones.

Researchers say that such bakeries were widespread at that time.

According to the scientists, the oldest Egyptian gown and one of the oldest restaurants in France can give us a better view on what life was in these places several thousand years ago.

The results of both studies are published in the scientific journal Antiquity.