3000-year-old trousers discovered in Chinese grave oldest ever found

That’s true, they were worn 1000 years before Christ’s birth. According to archaeologists, the two men whose bones were recently discovered in tombs in western China placed their pants on one leg at a time, much like the rest of us.

The ancient wool trousers have straight-fitting legs and a broad crotch, according to a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.

The findings, made in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous research that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, scientists report in Quaternary International on May 22, 2014. So not much has changed — these lavishly adorned pants must have been someone’s pride and joy because so much care has gone into them.

A battle-axe, a whip, a bow sheath and leather bracers for arm protection were buried with the two men. They were approximately 40 years old when they died. Each leg and the crotch were made from a separate piece of wool material, which was sewn together and tied at the waist with a thread. Legs were braided with patterns.

It was “a ground-breaking breakthrough in the history of cloth-making,” Beck and Wagner wrote. linguist Victor Mair of the University of Pennsylvania said, “This new research supports the concept of nomadic pastoralists inventing pants for horse riding and bringing them to the Tarim Basin.”

A few thousand years ago, people in Europe and Asia wore dresses, tunics, robes, togas or — as shown on the body of tzi the Iceman, who lived 5,300 years ago — loincloths and leggings. Its hot, dry environment preserved human bodies, clothes and other biological stuff. Since the early 1970s, more than 500 tombs have been excavated in a graveyard in the area.

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Researchers headed by Mair had previously found a 2,600-year-old person known as Cherchen Man who wore burgundy trousers, possibly made of wool, in Tarim Basin mummy excavations. Circa 2,500 years ago, Scythian nomads in West Asia were wearing trousers similar to today.

Trouser-making may have begun around 3,400 years ago in the drier regions to the north and west of Tarim Basin. Mair believes it’s unlikely that ancient trousers from those locations have been preserved.

Archaeologist Margarita Gleba of University College London says horse riding’s origins are unknown and might stretch back at least 4,000 years. In this case, she says, “I wouldn’t be shocked if the trousers were at least that far back.”

Investigators think the two men entombed at Yanghai were about 40 years old and likely fighters as well as herders. On one grave, a decorative leather horse bit, a battle-axe and a leather bracer for arm protection were buried with him. It was surrounded by items like whips and painted horsetails.

A team led by Beck and Wagner dated the fibres in both men’s pants and three other objects in one tomb using radiocarbon dating.

This site is located in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in northwest China and is known as Yanghai Tombs (also Yang-Hai Tombs or Yang-Hai Tombs). On the border of Turpan Oasis, Yangshai is at the foothills of the Fire Mountains (Huoyan Shan) and Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan). Yangshai is located around 30 km southeast of Turfan or Gaochang, the major site of Turfan.

They are divided into three groups: Groups 1, 2, and 3. It’s a huge place, measuring around 54,000 square metres (about 600,000 sq. ft.) in the region.

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They were nomads of the Subeixi civilization, one of several Steppe Societies that wandered Eurasia’s deserts and steppes from Ukraine to China, and interred in the graves. Local Turpan peasants were mending a karez when they stumbled onto the Yanghai Tombs in the early 1970s.

Almost all of the articles published in English have been devoted to analysing and cataloguing the mummies and thousands of items that have been excavated from tombs in Egypt. The Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology and Turpan Prefecture’s Bureau of Cultural Relics helped to dig more than 500 tombs in 2003 alone.

An insert for the crotch was stitched into the crotch. Despite the fact that there was no cutting involved, there were side slits, strings for fastening at the waist, and woven patterns on the legs of the dress.


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