Egypt's Tarkhan Dress Is World's Oldest Garment

The modern world has been given a glimpse of fashion as it existed 5,000 years ago. The Tarkhan dress, as it has been dubbed, is the oldest woven garment in the world, and though it is greatly degraded, it is easy to imagine how it looked thousands of years ago. The dress — which now looks more like a very thin shirt — was discovered in an Egyptian tomb, where it found inside-out and creased.

Researchers believe the Tarkhan dress was once long enough to reach or pass the knees, but much of it has been lost over the past few thousand years. The style is still distinct, however, including a v-neck cut with pleating around it and long sleeves. Such a design would have required skill, and indicates the dress originated from a relatively wealthy society where skilled craft workers were available.

An analysis of the dress found it contains creases near the elbows and armpits, hinting that someone wore the shirt — it wasn't reserved for special occasions. It was also found inside out as if it had been pulled off over the wearer's head.

The discovery itself is not new, however — the dress has been passed from one collective to another since the early 1900s, not receiving the attention it deserved until the late 1970s. Before that, it had ended up mixed with some rags and went unnoticed for decades.

According to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, which officially calls the dress "UC28614B," archaeologists uncovered it in 1913 from a Dynasty 1 Egyptian tomb. It has since been stitched onto a type of fine silk called Crepeline, which is commonly used for conserving old textiles. As shown in the image above, the preserved image was then mounted in such a way that it resembles how it would have looked when worn.

Who the dress belonged to is not clear, but it is known to have been put in the tomb as so-called funerary clothing.

VIA: National Geographic