The oldest pants in the world were discovered eight years ago, but they still fascinate scientists.
Archaeological discoveries are sometimes much less spectacular than they may seem. If some seek to find tombs, pharaohs or forgotten capitals lost in the jungle, other historians are interested in how the world, as a whole, could well have lived more than 3 millennia ago.
Thus in 2014, archaeologists found two remains of trousers in western China, quickly dated as the oldest ever found. They would be between 3000 and 3300 years old. A discovery that one might find anecdotal, but which has disturbed the minds of researchers for the past eight years.
An amazing weaving method
Indeed, the archaeologists at the origin of this discovery took years to understand the means of design of these pants made of wool. They have just published the results of their research in the international specialized scientific journal Quaternary. The interest for the scientists was to understand what was the weaving technique used here, since the fabric did not seem to have been cut. But finally, after more than eight long years of study, the researchers ended up spotting very fine cuts in the fabric.
The pants are ultimately composed of three pieces of wool woven together with great care. Concretely, the two largest pieces, almost rectangular, were used to cover the legs, from the waist to the ankles. The third piece, smaller and in the shape of a cross, is used to cover the crotch and thus finish the job.
This technique, little used according to scientists, allows not to cut the fabric, which makes the confection more solid. The archaeologists also note that the fabric used for the three pieces, as well as the thread that was used for the final stitching were of the same quality and also matched in color.
A glorious owner?
Archaeologists therefore suggest that the weaver and the tailor were the same person, or that they worked together to make these pants. The latter would have been worn by a knight. Indeed the way it is cut suggests that it is a distant ancestor of current riding pants.
Another very telling clue for archaeologists, the discovery of weapons and riding equipment of the time, next to the pants. Finally, the ultimate detail found by the scientists, the owner of these pants must have been a person of importance. Indeed, decorative patterns have been woven on the knees, waist and ankles. The fabric was also thicker at the joints, a sign of a desire to protect the owner, in the event of a fall for example.