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Fabric Through the Ages

Recently, National Public Radio aired a news segment on Otzi, the 5,000-year-old frozen man discovered in the Italian Alps in 1991. Otzi has received a lot of attention, since he was the best-preserved “mummy” scientists have ever recovered. At the time of his death, this iceman was wearing a hide coat, skin leggings, a loincloth, fur hat, and hay-stuffed shoes. While extensive research has been carried out on the mummified corpse, scientists had been unable to identify the various animal skins due to their advanced state of decomposition. Thanks to recent advances in DNA testing, researchers have now identified the animals from which the articles of clothing were made. Results showed the coat came primarily from domesticated sheep but had been patched with goatskin. The loincloth was also derived from sheepskin, while his leggings were made from goatskin. His hat came from a bear that was indigenous to the area, and the quiver for his arrows was made of skin from a roe deer. It’s fair to say clothing of that period was based on practicality and availability of natural materials, not based on what was “fashionable”! . . .

Click the magazine below to read the rest of Dennis Kinsel’s and Cheli Hadsall’s “Fabrics Through the Ages” on PAGE 34:

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