Oldest Human-Fashioned Fibers Discovered

In a cave in the nation of Georgia, American, Israeli, and Georgian scientists discovered the oldest human-worked fibers ever known. The flax remnants date to about 30,000 years ago:

Flax was growing wild at the time. And it turns out not only to be a source of edible grain, but of fiber. These fibers were twisted — a sure sign that the flax had been spun.

Flax fibers woven together make linen, but in this case, linen doesn't mean crisply pressed summer suits. Bar-Yosef says the fibers they found in the cave were probably braided together, macrame style.

"You can make headgear, you can make baskets, you can make ropes and strings, and so on," he says.

Bar-Yosef didn't find any of those objects in the cave — that's too much to hope for 30,000 years later. But the researchers report in Science magazine that they did find evidence that the fibers were knotted and dyed — black, gray, turquoise and even pink. That's consistent with other artifacts that show an artistic flair among these early people.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112726804&ps=cprs via Scientific American

Photo: Eliso Kvavadze/NPR

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