Our historic bond with wool - the 3,000-year-old Cherchen Man

Cherchen man wearing wool stockigs from 3,000 years ago

Wool’s first recorded use by humans can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia – present day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria and Turkey – where it was used in various types of apparel and blankets.

Wool provides an incredible connection between our present way of living and how our ancestors used to live: rearing sheep for food and using the wool to make clothing to wear and to trade.

Every so often, this relationship is brought to life when archeologists discover evidence of how our ancestors used to live with wool. In some cases, the level of preservation is so good that it is possible to see clearly how the wool was produced and used.

The discovery of the ‘Cherchen man’, a 3,000-year-old 6 ft Bronze-age European of Celtic origin buried in Turkestan, western China, is one such example.

He was discovered fully dressed and next to a pile of wool blankets on the Silk Road. His body and clothing are so well preserved that you can clearly see his red twill tunic and tartan leggings, which are thought to be the earliest exisiting example of tartan. The colours in the man’s stockings are so vivid that they could easily have been woven yesterday, let alone thousands of years ago.

Follow these links to find out more about the Cherchen Man. 

Article in The Independent

Article about Chinese Mummies

If you enjoyed this article keep an eye out on our blog as we hope to bring you more interesting facts about wool.


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