A 5,000-year-old Egyptian garment provides a glimpse into the fashions of yester-yester-yesteryear.

A 5,000-year-old Egyptian garment provides a glimpse into the fashions of yester-yester-yesteryear.

New tests show that a linen dress found in an Egyptian tomb dates back more than 5,000 yearsmaking it the oldest woven garment yet found. Beautifully stitched and pleated, it signals the complexity and wealth of the ancient society that produced it.A 4500 year old Egyptian tunic in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (720x897) : r/ArtefactPornThe garment, known as the Tarkhan dress, is a find of surpassing rarity. Few pieces of early clothing, which was made from plant fibers or animal skins, escaped disintegration. Textiles recovered from archaeological sites are generally no older than 2,000 years, says Alice Stevenson, curator of London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and an author of a new study in the journal Antiquity about the dress’s age.

A handful of garments of similar age have survived to the present day, but those were simply wrapped or draped around the body. The Tarkhan dress, on the other hand, is ancient haute couture. With its tailored sleeves, V-neck, and narrow pleats, it would look perfectly at home in a modern department store.

A 4500 year old Egyptian tunic in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. (720x897) : r/ArtefactPorn

Such fine detail could only have been turned out by a specialized craftsperson. And such people arise only in a prosperous and hierarchical society, such as the ancient Egypt of 5,000 years ago, a time when the kingdom was first united under a single ruler.

Creases at the elbows and armpits also hint that someone once wore the dress; it wasn’t just ceremonial.

Only the upper crust could’ve afforded such a dress. Tombstones of roughly the same age as the dress depict people wearing similar robes, says Jana Jones of Australia’s Macquarie University, adding that the hieroglyph for “dress” features on lists of items taken to the afterlife, along with food and cosmetics.

“I am delighted to read that the Tarkhan Dress has been securely radiocarbon dated and that science has restored it to its rightful place as the earliest woven garment,” Jones says via email.