Ten of the Oldest Everyday Items Ever Found
Every day you get up, get dressed, eat, and probably head out to work, school, or some other activity outside your home. If you work, you may have to interact with customers, who are not always content. When you return home at the end of the day on Friday you probably enjoy the comforts of your home furnishings and perhaps pick up a book or put on some jewelry and dancing shoes to have a fun night out. If you follow any of this routine, you probably wear, use, or consume something that has very ancient origins. These are some of the top ten oldest everyday items.
The Tarkhan dress is both the oldest known dress and the oldest woven garment in the world. It was discovered in 1912 by one of the most famous Egyptologists in history – William Flinders Petrie. Petrie found the garment in one of the tombs at the site of Tarkhan, 50 km (31.07 miles) south of Cairo.
The article of clothing wasn’t recognized until it was removed from a dirty bundle of linen which was sent to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1977 for conservation. The well-preserved V-neck linen shirt (or dress) with pleated sleeves was one of 18 textiles in the bundle. In 2016, the Tarkhan dress was radiocarbon dated to 3482–3102 BC at a 95% probability. That places it in the Egyptian First Dynasty period. Today, it is a part of the collection of the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London.
The incredible Shigir Idol is a wooden wonder from the prehistoric world. Scientists determined the tall, carved wooden statue to be 11,000 years old, making it the is the oldest of its kind in the world. Researchers found that the humanoid statue was 1,500 years older than previously believed by using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry on seven minuscule wooden samples.
The Shigir Idol is 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) long, though it was originally 5.3 meters (17.4 feet) tall before lengths of the artifact were accidentally destroyed during the Soviet era. It is believed to have been carved from a large tree with a stone implement. The body of the prehistoric sculpture is flat and rectangular and has horizontal lines at approximately chest level, appearing to represent ribs.
One of the most intriguing elements of the wooden statue are the seven faces at different levels of the statue, suggesting to academics that the positions likely relate to a hierarchy. Three figures are located one above the other on both the front and the back, and a seventh figure connects both sides, completing the composition. Researchers believe that the idol’s high cheekbones and straight nose may reflect what the creators looked like at the time.
When archaeologists recently explored the 13th century BC tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of Memphis in Egypt, they found broken jars. One jar contained a solidified whitish mass, as well as canvas fabric that might have covered the jar or been used to preserve its contents.
After dissolving a sample of the mass, the researchers purified its protein constituents and analyzed them with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry. The peptides detected by these techniques show the sample was a dairy product made from cow milk and sheep or goat milk. The characteristics of the canvas fabric, which indicate it was suitable for containing a solid rather than a liquid, and the absence of other specific markers, support the conclusion that it was a solid cheese.
The Pazyryk Carpet is the oldest known example of a carpet in existence today. Discovered in a state of almost perfect preservation, it was pulled from a royal tomb in the Pazyryk Valley of Siberia, Russia. Based on radiocarbon dating, archaeologists are able to say that it was made between the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
It has survived till today thanks to sheer luck. The burial mound where the carpet was found had been looted in the past. The grave robbers had taken all the precious contents within the burial, and the items considered to be of lesser value, such as the carpet, were left behind. The robbers had not bothered to cover the burial mound after they had looted it. As a result, water seeped in, and covered the Pazyryk Carpet. During the winter, the water froze, thus forming a protective layer over the carpet. It is due to this film of ice that it was preserved. The carpet is so well preserved that its colors, which were produced using dyes made of plants and insects, are still so vibrant even today.
The design on the carpet has a central field occupied by 24 squares. Within each is a cross-shaped figure composed of four stylized lotus buds. This field is enclosed by a frame of griffins, followed by another of fallow deer. In the outermost frame are men on horseback, as well as dismounted warriors. The makers of the Pazyryk Carpet paid a lot of attention to the details of the figures. For instance, each fallow deer is depicted with its internal organs, including its heart, intestines, and maw. The carpet was woven using a technique known as the “symmetrical double knot, the so-called Turkish knot”, and contains over 1,250,000 knots.
Researchers are not yet able to determine the origin of the carpet. One speculation is that it was from Persia, whilst another suggests that it came from Central Asia, in the area where the Scythian and Persian cultures came into contact. Yet another possibility is that the Scythians themselves created this carpet based on a Persian prototype.
The oldest bracelet in the world is intricately made with polished green stone and is thought to have adorned a very important woman or child on special occasions. Dating to 40,000 years ago, the stone bracelet was unearthed in the Altai region of Siberia in 2008. It apparently reflects the sun’s rays and shines a deep green in firelight.
Scientists have concluded it was made by the Denisovans, providing evidence that they were more advanced than many have thought. In fact, the manufacturing technology is more common to a much later period, such as the Neolithic era. The bracelet was found inside the famous Denisova Cave. Made of chlorite, the bracelet was found in the same layer as the remains of some prehistoric people and is thought to have belonged to them.
All jewelry had a magical meaning for ancient people and even for us, though we do not always notice this. Bracelets and neck adornments were to protect people from evil spirits, for instance. This item, given the complicated technology and imported material, obviously belonged to some high ranked person of that society.
A copy of the Mahayana Buddhism sacred text called The Diamond Sutra is the world's earliest complete example of a dated printed book. The document was discovered in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, China in the beginning of the 20th century by a Taoist priest and dates back to 868 AD.
The Diamond Sutra is a brief text - it has been claimed that a typical English translation would contain about 6000 words. Nevertheless, the message it contains is deeply profound and is open to various interpretations. Perhaps one of the most basic interpretations of the Diamond Sutra is that it is an exhortation by the Buddha to his followers to “cut through the illusions of reality that surround them”, thus recognizing what is real.
A clay tablet from ancient Babylon reveals that no matter where (or when) you go, good customer service can be hard to find. So it was revealed by the irate copper merchant, Nanni, in 1750 BC. The merchant’s aggravation is evident, spelled out in cuneiform on a clay tablet now displayed in The British Museum.
In what is said to be the oldest customer service complaint discovered, Babylonian copper merchant Nanni details at length his anger at a sour deal, and his dissatisfaction with the quality assurance and service of Ea-nasir. The translation lays out Nanni’s displeasure:
Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:
When you came, you said to me as follows : “I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.” You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: “If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!”
What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.
How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.
Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.
All organic materials such animal skins worn by Paleolithic or Neolithic peoples have, for the most part, disappeared. In the right environment though, such materials can last for thousands of years. One example of this is a 5,500-year-old leather shoe found in an Armenian cave which has been directly dated with radiocarbon dating. The shoe is small, a women’s size by modern European and American standards, however it could have also been worn by a man in this time-period.
The prehistoric shoe was preserved by both the cold, dry conditions of the cave and a layer of sheep dung which was covering it, acting as a weathering seal. Along with the shoe, containers of wheat, barley, and apricots were also discovered. It is not certain why the shoe or the other items were left there. They could have been placed for storage or hidden in a time of conflict. It is also possible that they were left there as an offering, possibly of a religious nature.
In 2014, a team of archaeologists excavating tombs in western China uncovered the remains of two nomadic herders and a 3,000-year-old pair of trousers with woven patterns, which are the oldest known pair ever discovered. The finding gives support to the theory that the transition from tunics to trousers was a practical development for horse-riders of the time.
The ancient trousers, which are made of wool, have straight-fitting legs, a wide crotch, and decorative designs on the legs. The trousers were sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. The tailoring involved no cutting – the trouser sections were shaped on a loom in the final size. The finished product included side slits and strings for fastening at the waist.
By Ancient Origins