Clothing around 20,000 BC

The Globe




Southwest Asia




Indus Valley





Mammoths, horses, and many other animals were hunted by these upper Paleolithic peoples, but the reindeer was the staff of life: at many sites 99% of all animal bones found belonged to reindeer; hides provided clothing and coverings for shelters. (Pattern in Prehistory)

One of the most amply documented Upper Paleolithic cultures in eastern Europe is the Kostenski-Bershevo culture centered in the Don River Valley, about 470 kilometers southeast of Moscow. About 25,000 to 11,000 years ago, numerous wolf and fox bones at these sites probably reflect the hunting of these anilmals for their fur for clothing. (Pattern in Prehistory)

The evidence...consists of four small fragments of fired clay bearing negative impressions of a textile or finely twined basket, Dr. Soffer said. Along with hundreds of thousands of other artifacts at the rich site, they were excavated in 1954 by Dr. Bohuslav Klima, a Moravian archaeologist. In the summer of 1990, Dr. Soffer, sorting through about 3,000 clay fragments in an effort to categorize them stylistically, noticed four pieces, about the size of a quarter, with markings on their concave sides. Three radiocarbon dates of ashes at the site ranged from 24,870 to 26,980 years ago, and Dr. Soffer said the fragments could date from anytime between. The type of weave in the Pavlov clay fragments is "twining"; though it too can produce a cloth, it cannot be mechanized because the parallel weft threads cross each other. Dr. Barber said twining produced a more stable weave because the weft threads twisted around each other and prevented sliding. "When you see them switching from twining over to the true weave or plain weave by around 7000 BC, then they've figured out mechanization," she said. "They've given up stability of weave for speed of production." (83)

The occupation of northern Russia and Siberia by at least twenty thousand years ago depended on many advances: sewn clothing, whose existence is reflected in eyed needles, cave paintings of parkas and grave ornaments marking outline, of shirts and trousers; warm furs, indicated by fox and wolf skeletons minus the paws (removed in skinning and found in a separate pile)... (The Third Chimpanzee)

Another fascinating feature of this site [Dolni Vestonice] is that an impression in the clay floor of a hut that was burnt down provides unmistakeable evidence of woven material. Evidence of 36 samples of textile impressions was found on both fired and unfired clay. These artefacts were clearly made of plant rather than animal fibres. The types of woven materials included single­ply, multiple-ply, and braided cordage, knotted netting, plaited and wicker-style basketry. (Climate Change in Prehistory)

There is another feature of the Venus figurines that may provide insight into gender roles. This is the fact that some of them are partially clothed. The attire depicted includes basket hats or caps, netted snoods, bandeaux, string skirts and belts. (Climate Change in Prehistory)

Upper Paleolithic sites have produced slotted daggers of reindeer antler. At the Kosoutsy site, reindeer antler was also used as a raw material to manufacture spearpoints for use in the hunt and thin slivers of reindeer bone were used in the production of eyed needles. Eyed needles are indirect evidence of sewing and the inferred production of sewn clothing during the Upper Paleolithic. More direct evidence of the production of tailored clothing comes from the 22,000-year-old site of Sungir, just north of Moscow, in Russia. Beads used for fastening were found in a pattern in the ground, outlining what appears to have been pants, a shirt or jacket, a cap, and shoes. (The Past in Perspective)

...evidence for full-fledged textiles, in the form of clay impressions of woven materials, date back twenty-five thousand years, and in a cave in the country of Georgia (north of eastern Turkey and the site of G√∂bekli Tepe) human-processed flax fibers (which traditionally are used  to make linen) have been found that date back thirty thousand years or more. ...the thirty-thousand-year-old fibers from Georgia were purposefully dyed various shades of black, gray, pink, and turquoise. (Forgotten Civilization

South America




North America