Ancient Linen Hemp Fabric Found

I’m sort of a Çatalhöyük buff so this is interesting to me. Archaeologists working at the site have found a piece of very ancient woven fabric:

Excavations works that have been continuing in the earliest settlement of Çatalhöyük in the central Anatolian province of Konya have revealed a 9,000-year-old piece of linen fabric. The world’s first hemp-weaved fabric has been found in the ground of a burned house.

The report about the new findings includes the process between June 15 and Aug. 15. More than 120 people from 22 countries worked for the excavations in this process. The most striking thing on the report is this fabric, which was wrapped around a baby skeleton.

The cloth is very finely woven and it’s the earliest piece of linen woven with a combination of flax and hemp to be discovered to date.

Linen fabrics are believed to have been produced for millennia, possibly for as long as 30,000 years. The Çatalhöyük find is roughly contemporary with the ancient linen fabric discovered by Robert Braidwood twenty years ago at Çayönü, more than 600 km. distant, so the technology was apparently fairly widespread around the region by that time.

11 comments… add one

  • TastyBits

    So much to learn, and so little time. I need to figure out a way to get paid to learn.

  • The guy who discovered Çatalhöyük was named James Mellaart. He died a couple of years ago. His peers reckoned him as having possibly the best field sense in archaeology.

    He was, apparently, sort of a combination of scholar, Indiana Jones, and (allegedly) con man. I think his life is crying out to have a movie made based on it.

  • PD Shaw

    I’m currently reading Barry Cunliffe’s “Britain Begins,” a history of the Isles from about 10,000 BC to 1,000 AD. This is beautifully illustrated, and does a nice job of intermixing archeology, language, genetics, and recorded history, including myths and impressions that have been influential beyond the evidence.

    But I am getting kind of tired of pots

  • Does he take a side on the Picts? Also, what’s his sequence on the Cornish? Brittany to Cornwall and back again or Cornwall to Brittany and back again?

  • PD Shaw

    I am only at the Bronze Age, and he has a tendency to go forward for a few chapters and then stop to reflect on broader themes like culture in a chapter. He appears to be dealing with the Picts in reference to the Roman period, at which point he may look backward, but so far the archaeological evidence he’s assembled tends to show few finding in “Pictland.” He may just say they are a mystery.

    Cunliffe has a couple of points he appears to want to emphasize, either because they’re his theory or popular understanding is not up to speed. First, he feels that the evidence of the important sea routes between Western France and Spain to both sides of the Irish Sea has been ignored in favor of the Continental approach to Southeast England that was so important in relation to the Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasions.

    The second is to differentiate Celtic identity from La Tene art. He rather sees Celts as an Atlantic people that may have adopted La Tene art, but this does not indicate migration. He thinks Celtic developed as the lingua franca of the Atlantic zone, btw/ the Western Iberian peninsula, Brittany, Ireland and Western Albion, including Cornwall, Wales and much of Scotland. He thinks the language eventually spread into Gaul, where it was introduced (or reintroduced) into England across the Channel. (P and Q Celtic)

    So far, not big on large movements of people, though he doesn’t discount that such movements are happening in established trade routes, sometimes there is evidence of whole villages on the Continent that appear to have picked up and moved to the Islands, but not such as to describe a Folk Movement. I’m guessing he sees Cornwall as historically tied to the coasts of the Irish Sea and Armorica and movements between them are not unusual, but sometimes more pronounced.

  • The second is to differentiate Celtic identity from La Tene art. He rather sees Celts as an Atlantic people that may have adopted La Tene art, but this does not indicate migration. He thinks Celtic developed as the lingua franca of the Atlantic zone, btw/ the Western Iberian peninsula, Brittany, Ireland and Western Albion, including Cornwall, Wales and much of Scotland. He thinks the language eventually spread into Gaul, where it was introduced (or reintroduced) into England across the Channel. (P and Q Celtic)

    That’s closely related to an argument I’ve had from time to time with professional linguists about the relationship between the Celtic and Italic languages. After a bit of hemming and hawing they usually concede that it would be better to think of the Celto-Italic languages than the peasant Celtic languages on the one hand and the more elite Romance languages on the other.

  • ...

    Indiana Jones, and (allegedly) con man.

    But you repeat yourself, LOL.

  • Mellaart was first accused of dealing Turkish antiquities on the black market and then falsely claiming the existence of the antiquities he was supposed to have sold. He was banned from Turkey twice, the second time permanently. The Turkish government then closed the Çatalhöyük dig for several decades.

  • PD Shaw

    His proposed model as a working hypothesis is that Celtic evolved in the lower Tagus region (Portugal) in settlements established by Mediterranean colonists, originally speaking a “Celto-Italic” language. The Atlantic-facing regions of Iberia would have been close enough to the Mediterranean world to receive their people or language, yet once fully settled would have offered new opportunities to develop knowledge and skills specific to exploiting resources unique to the Atlantic coast.

    The distribution of passage graves along the Atlantic coast from Portugal to Ireland and Scotland around 4500-3500BC strongly suggest a shared culture that would require a shared language (unlike goods that could be traded without speaking, common burial traditions or rituals necessarily reflect more extensive sharing). He assumes Celtic was fully developed along the Atlantic by 3000 BC, and moved into the European heartland with the Beaker phenomenon by 2000 BC.

  • ...

    Too lazy to read the article. Why does the distance between the sites of linen discoveries mean widespread dispersal of the technology at that time instead of widespread trade? Obviously the tech did disperse eventually, but is there anything at the two sites to indicate tech dispersal instead of trade?

  • ...

    Okay, from the linked article I got this:

    Speaking about the relation of the piece of fabric with trade, Hodder said, “This piece of linen, which is weaved very thin, most probably came from the eastern Mediterranean from the central Anatolia. It is already known that obsidians and sea shells had been exchanged in long-distance trade in the Middle East during the Neolithic era. But this fabric may have revealed another side of the trade.”

    So they’re thinking trade, too, if I’m reading this correctly.

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