World's Oldest Pants

Digs & Discoveries September/October 2014

(Courtesy German Archaeological Institute, M. Wagner)

Radiocarbon dating of two pairs of trousers discovered in a cemetery in western China has revealed they were made between the thirteenth and tenth centuries B.C., making them the oldest known surviving pants by almost 1,000 years. German Archaeological Institute scholar Mayke Wagner, who led the study, says the dates amazed his team. “In most places on Earth, 3,000-year-old garments are destroyed by microorganisms and chemicals in the soil,” he says. The two people who were buried wearing pants were likely prestigious warriors who functioned like policemen and wore trousers while riding on horseback. “The trousers were part of their uniform and the fact that they were made between 100 and 200 years apart means it was a standard, traditional design,” says Wagner, whose team worked with a fashion designer to re-create the garments. “They are surprisingly good-looking, but they are not particularly comfortable for walking.”

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