8,500 years old embroidered clothing found in an excavation in Servia

8,500 years old embroidered clothing found in an excavation in Servia


Scientists from Cambridge and Cardiff Universities have discovered some burial sites in Servia, in which evidence of early examples of embroidered clothing is revealed.

Carp teeth and shells were used to embroider cloths in the Mesolithic in Vlasac area in Servia.  Red ochre was used with tendon strings to fasten carp ornaments to clothing. The shells were intentionally modified to facilitate fastening to clothing.  A Mesolithic adult and a child were found buried with ornaments exhibiting the same embroidery on clothing.  The use-wear traces on ornaments from burials indicate their prolonged  and frequent use.

These ornaments can be classified as appliqués, embroidered onto leather-made clothing. The perforated carp teeth were used as needles to sew clothing. Threads made from animal tissues (tendons and leather) were utilized for attaching carp teeth ornaments. The presence of ochre residues indicates that the threads were coloured. The intensity of use-traces on carp teeth and shells suggests that these ornaments were worn during people’s lifetime and buried wearing these cloaks.

In the excavations, shell  beads were embroidered on the back of the costume in such a way that the white base would face outwards. The nature and distribution of the use-wear traces suggest that each shell was sewed separately from the other and attached to the cloth by its lip. The removal of the convex surface of the shell, reveals the necessity of creating a white/beige bead with a flat profile, probably more functional and meaningful for the embroiderer.  The majority of ornaments forming the embroidery created a pattern that might have been seen from the back of these individuals. We could think of two different types of clothing that the patterning of embroidery suggests: a two-piece garment with a longer jacket and trousers, both with embroidered ornaments, and with the line of beads from of the upper part of the garment, reaching down to the back of the thighs;  a cloak placed on the deceased in the same way as it would have been worn in life. In either case, the distribution of ornaments  suggests that both the adults and children might have had custom-fitted garments/cloaks.