The Shirt On My Back

I’m fascinated by the history and relationship between people, places and things. My curious mind wants to give meaning to pretty much everything.  I thrive on making connections between old and new, because I believe everything has a history.  Which brings me to the reason for this blog post…

During my recent research on the contribution women played in the development of textiles, I found an image of the world’s oldest preserved linen shirt (as of 1994) pictured in Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, by Elizabeth Barber.

Sleeved Tunic_1
From a First Dynasty Egyptian tomb at Tarkhan, ca. 3000 BC (UC 28614B’: photograph courtesty of Petrie Museum, University College London, where the piece is on display.)

“A meticulous British archaeologist, Sir William Linders Petrie concentrated on recording the minutest details of Egyptian daily life at a time when most museums and scholars prospected only for splendid works of ancient art and discarded the rest of what they uncovered.”

This homely piece of rag was tucked away in Petrie’s collection housed at the University of College London, and was later uncovered in 1977 by two women curators interested in textiles.  The shirt was actually found inside out just as the wearer had left it.

Petrie’s curiostiy and  fascination with detail provided tangible evidence for the history of textile design.  I was surprised to find a connection between the design of the earliest complete garment and my knitted sweater.

Chevron Sweater
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall



Author: knitorious

Creating surface design on fabric through the use of mobile photography.

2 thoughts on “The Shirt On My Back”

  1. That’s really cool! I remember reading about the ancient shirt and getting cold chills that it was preserved for so long. The style must be a good one, to stand the test of time as it has!


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