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Iron Age Fashion

Interesting Insight into Iron-Age Fashion

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A new article published in the journal Antiquity has revealed the discovery of an Iron Age tunic two years ago under melting snow in a hunting area on the Norwegian Lendbreen glacier at 6,560 feet above the sea level.

The boat neck sweater made of warm wool and woven in diamond twill would have been worn by a reindeer hunter approximately 1,700 years ago. The finding is extremely rare as there are no more than five complete garments that have been uncovered from early first millennium AD.

 “Due to global warming, rapid melting of snow patches and glaciers is taking place in the mountains of Norway as in other parts of the world, and hundreds of archaeological finds emerge from the ice each year,” Marianne Vedeler, from the University of Oslo, Norway, and Lise Bender Jørgensen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, wrote.

While many assumed that our ancient ancestors made clothes that were practical and functional and cared little about how they looked, this finding challenges that assumption as a close analysis on the fabric reveals that the fabric was deliberately and evenly mottled by using two light and two dark brown alternating wool threads.

“There is no doubt that the wool was carefully chosen for both fabrics, and that both quality and natural pigmentation were taken into consideration,” the researchers said.

There is also a close similarity in the cut and size of this tunic and another garment found more than 150 years ago in a bog at Thorsbjerg, Schleswig-Holsten, which suggests that our Iron Age ancestors preferred this particular style.

“The similarity between the two tunics is very interesting as it suggests that a specific style was intended, and that this ‘fashion’ was known over a wide area. Both are woven in a weave called diamond twill that was popular over large parts of northern Europe in the period,” Jørgensen said.

While the greenish-brown tunic wouldn’t exactly meet today’s fashion standards, it seems that our Iron Age ancestors were just as concerned about their appearance as we are.

By April Holloway

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