MadSci Network: Evolution

Re: When did human ancestors begin wearing clothes and why?

Date: Mon Jun 11 13:00:39 2001
Posted By: Daniel R. Pratt, Staff, Archaeology, Oertel Architects
Area of science: Evolution
ID: 992037197.Ev


According to Dr. Richard Klein (Stanford University), the first evidence of 
tailored clothing, including the first appearance of bone needles, comes 
from European Cro-Magnon (Homo sapiens) archaeological sites dated to 
slightly less than 50,000 years ago. By 35-40,000 years ago, Cro-Magnon 
graves at some sites show evidence of what is obviously traces of clothing 
around skeletons.

As far as the justification for the first clothing, I think it could be 
safely assumed that the initial goal was warmth, not style or modesty. And 
I would guess that the first winter clothing would have been worn over the 
shoulders, not around the waist (try it and see which keeps you warmer!).

Specific to your question, I don't believe that any palaeolithic loin 
cloths have been found, and I'm sure that their use on homonid mannequins 
is an artifact of modern modesty. For the most part, however, I think 
museums have updated their displays to include unabashed homonid nudity(!), 
or at least, homonids in "discrete" poses. I suppose that the museum staff 
would like to keep the grade-schoolers questions focused on other issues...

Hope this helped!

Daniel R. Pratt

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