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Neolithic Clothing in the Game?

Neolithic folks probably didn’t wander about in quality textiles

(Yes, they likely have some, but limited quality and quantity is likely)

The Ozti Iceman died around 3300 B.C.E.
He died during the copper age, between 1000 and 3000 years after the height of the Neolithic period, so you would expect that his clothes would be either more advanced than what people of the Neolithic had, or at least equal.

BUT… Far from full length linen tunics perfectly bleached pearly white, as we so often see in Neolithic recreations and depictions, the man wore almost exclusively leather. His leggings and loincloth were made from goat leather, he also wore furs.

Behold, 1,000+ years beyond the Neolithic… no full length linen tunic :slight_smile:

Moving a little bit further ahead in time, ~1920 years or so, we encounter a dancing woman* who was buried in Denmark around the year ~1380 BCE. A member of the Bronze Age, she is several thousand years more advanced than the height of the Neolithic and almost 2000 years more advanced than the Ozti Iceman. Finally, we find a wool woven outfit of the quality and complexity which could have brought us those beautiful full-length linen dresses Neolithic people are often depicted wearing. However, 1920 years is the about the same distance between Julius Caesar and World War II.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting that such clothing didn’t exist until Egtved Girl (the woman pictured below), But as you can see clothing technology had not progressed very far from the Neolithic if what we see on this dancing woman is representative of at least an average textile from her time. Keep in mind, people were often buried in their finest clothing, so this might actually be better quality than common.

*We don’t know if she was actually a dancer, but the outfit is suggestive and many experts have conjectured this.

Looking at other high quality textiles preserved from the same time as the dancing woman, we see that the textiles are certainly at the same quality or greater than those depicted in Neolithic illustrations, but they are also several thousand years more advanced. One would expect to see a greater degree of advancement in such a period of time if we are to believe that Neolithic people wandered about casually doing their daily chores and high-quality woven textiles. By now, the absurdity of such depiction to be beginning to sink in.

This shirt was made around 2000BCE Egypt, within ~620 years of Egtved Girl


Another example of a problem with interpretation. The people of the Trypillian culture made beautiful figurines with elaborate designs. I often see recreated illustrations depicting their clothing to match these figures. The problem is how complex this would be to weave. I find it more likely these designs were pained upon skin, likely for a ritualistic purpose.

Look at the figure. It doesn’t have the shape of a clothed person.

Consider this woman instead. She is wearing a simple string skirt and her body is pained with swirls. How would she be carved as a figure? Probably a female shape with swirl shapes, but likely not the string skirt.

5500BCE Linear Pottery Culture - Dioramas!

I have been working hard for months creating Neolithic clothing. I felt it was time to demonstrate some of this in a dire, format. These images were made by me and they are, to the best of my knowledge, faithful attempts that the reproduction of early Neolithic Western European people, my ancestors.

Skin: these women should be significantly darker than the mannequins to portray them. Their skin color should be darker than most Europeans today, as well as tanned from the sun. Light-colored skin had not emerged in Western Europe, in any major sense, at this point.

Clothing: I made all of the clothing by hand using realistic tools and techniques. Even the body paint is made from authentic sources, such as ash and ocher. The styles of clothing are based upon Neolithic art, logical analysis of garments, and a little bit of artistic license.

Gender: All of the models female because I don’t have a male mannequin. Conversely, most prehistoric imagery is of men, so perhaps I’m equaling things.

Nudity: There is nudity, but one must consider that our modern concepts of modesty were likely not present in the Neolithic. Not only can we determine this by looking at their artwork, but from the simple practical reasoning of their clothing and their environment.

Early Neolithic Spring

Wheat crops are incredibly vital to the survival of the tribe. Brig’dha performs a purification ritual over the freshly sprouted wheat adorned in a wreath of early-bloom lavender and waving a sprig of lavender to drive away spirits which might threaten the crops. The morning is crisp but quickly warms under a spring sun. Brig’dha warms her legs with a pair of deer leather leggings and a long loincloth, her feet bear against the quickly warming soil. She wears clay jewelry, and a polished bone pendant as well as a feather in her hair. Her body is painted to please the fertility gods. A good harvest means life and a failed harvest can mean death.

Early Neolithic Summer

Kaelu enjoys the cold river water of the Rhine on a hot summer day as she spearfishes. Her three-pronged fishing spear is secured with sinew and quickly retrieved with the help of a flax cord attached to the handle. She wears a simple linen loincloth and her upper body is painted, for modesty sake. The water has washed most of the body paint away from her last ritual. She carries a sprig of lavender in her waist cord for good luck and a beautiful shell necklace for decoration. She is barefoot as shoes are simply unneeded the warm season.

Early Neolithic Fall

Brig’dha stands before her tribe performing an invocation of the harvest deities for her tribe’s fertility festival. Fertility of land ensures food for the people in the coming year. In her hands, she holds sprigs of European Goldenrod. Her body is painted in wood ash, bone ash, and red ocher, and she wears a flax string skirt around her waist. A pendant to the fertility goddess hangs around her neck, and she is adorned with clay jewelry.

Early Neolithic Winter

Kaelu prepares for ice fishing. In her hand, she holds a three-pronged fishing spear with a flax cord attached to prevent the spear from being lost. She drapes a wolf fur across her back for extra warmth, though her heavy woven linen vest and felt shirt provide plenty of protection against the wind. Below the waist, she is protected by a wide deer leather loincloth and deer leather leggings, her feet warmed by felt shoes.


Weaving Update!

My weaving of Neolithic linen is improving. I’m gaining skills and insight into how it was done as well as facing many of the pitfalls my ancient ancestors would have overcome.

First, I have to hand span weft each night for weaving the next day. This is a significant amount of work to do as the spinning wheel isn’t invented yet. One of the major limitations to a tribe wearing all linen is the amount of time it takes to grow and then spend said flax.

The loom weights are in little linen bags, though I suspect either clay weights or leather bags with the more common. I will make some woodfired loom weights in a few weeks once my clay arrives.

Many hours are required to set up the loom. The most complicated part is ensuring that the heddle bar is properly strong to allow me to easily separate the back and front warp at will.

Kaelu, my Neolithic assistant, stands by ready to… But she doesn’t really help, but she keeps the mood decidedly Neolithic. She’s also wearing a Neolithic loincloth I wove. lol

3mm flax cord - Very course linen

~1mm flax cord - Much finer, but much more like burlap.

Making flax cord finer than 1mm, completely by hand, is quite difficult. I know that my Neolithic ancestors likely had so much more experience than me so I suspect they could get down to 0.5 mm, but I’m skeptical below that. Not only is it difficult to spin, but differences in the thickness do to the imprecision of hand spinning become much more pronounced, and the amount of string required vastly grows.

I suspect that linen was used much more sparingly in the early Neolithic, either for winter clothing, ritual, status and of course when someone needed to be in the water. Of course, I find it quite possible that a Neolithic spearfishing woman, like the one below, I simply just removed all of her clothing before doing so. I doubt anybody would have noticed or cared and we see modern tribes in the Amazon doing this. Either way, linen is a pain to make.

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I’m back with a little bit more information detailing why textiles should be very limited in the game before the Bronze Age.

This 2/2 diamond twill wool tunic is estimated to have taken 402 hours to make. Made somewhere between 230 A.D. and 390 A.D., it is between three and 5000 years more advanced than the Neolithic described in the game, yet it is exactly the correct type of tunic if we are to believe the common Neolithic illustrations we see in books, aside from the weave pattern, which will probably be a simple flat weave. (Vedeler, M. and Hammarlund, L. Reconstructing the Tunic from Lendbreen in Norway. Archaeological Textiles Review no. 59 2017, p. 24-33, 2017). Are we really to believe that a small Neolithic tribe of a few dozen to perhaps 150 people would dedicate hundreds of hours to making a garment when leather was readily accessible, perform the same task and was more comfortable to wear? Religion, tribal status and some benefit during the winter may have made this task more appealing. We can also speculate that a simple flat we would have taken less time than this 2/2 diamond weave, though clothing an entire tribe would still be an absurd amount of time. If we estimated such a tunic taking a mere 100 hours to make, one fourth of the time it took to make the slightly more complex woven tunic, then we multiply that by 150 people any decent sized Neolithic village, we find 15000 hours required for everyone to strut about in fine linens, and that is not taking into account additional outfits per person. That’s 5.13(13) person years of work.

Just as I predicted in the weaving form topic, the most time-consuming component of making outfit like this is the spinning of threads. This seems confirmed in the article. It took approximately 3.4 times longer to spin the wall than it did to leave the cloth, which is close to what I observe. My own spinning typically requires an hour or two a day, and results in barely 30 minutes of weft for weaving.

(Vedeler, M. and Hammarlund, L. Reconstructing the Tunic from Lendbreen in Norway. Archaeological Textiles Review no. 59 2017, p. 24-33, 2017).

I highly recommend reading this entire journal from beginning to end as it provides significant information about prehistoric textiles.


I wanted to share something that has fucked my mind quite hard recently, take a look.

A while ago, I posted this image, a fabric made of esparto grass, from the Neolithic site of Cueva de los Murciélagos, Spain ; I said I didn’t know what it was, and that there was no description in the museum.

Now, I was watching Spanish TV and this showed up :

I was baffled of how similar these objects looked like the one in the museum, and made from esparto grass as well! These things are called “capachos”, and are used piled up around a post (see the hole) to press ground up olives and obtain olive oil ; wikipedia also states that it can be used to transport “fruit, minerals or other materials”.
I’ll let you look it up, but if it means Neolithic people produced olive oil… Well I don’t know what to think anymore :’) xD For what use? Did they have olive trees? I’ll run a quick search on that and keep you posted :slight_smile:
EDIT : Oldest olive tree culture is from 4000 BCE in the Fertile Crescent, so actually quite far from Atlantic Neolithic. Lastly, I just noticed the Cueva de los Murciélagos and the town where the capachos are typical, Úbeda, are just a hundred kms away! Capachos are crazy :laughing:



About your earlier post, I forgot to post my comment.
Basically, if we sum up everything:
a) if it takes so much time to spin flax, this would mean woven clothes should be considered a prestige item, exactly like jadeite or later copper axes?
b) this also implies an extended family work – children and slaves, maybe more peculiarly in some convenient times in the year. As an example, spinning could easily be done in the winter, when everyone would avoid going too far from the village due to the weather and had far less work to attend to in the fields. Basically, that’s the multi-secular life of farmers, so this would not be surprising at all if it happened as soon as the Neolithic.

And, related to point b): a few centuries ago (from the Middle Ages to the 19th century), my hometown was heavily specialized in flax industry. And I think I remember having heard in history lessons, when I was a child, that some space was allocated in the basement of the houses to either spinning or weaving (will have to check which of those two activities though), because a damp air made the work easier.

But this also reminds me of the Frankish huts like the one showed in the video hereunder, that were for long believed to be houses but were probably more working places or places to keep material.
The one in the video has been reconstructed 22 years ago, and according to the archaeologist (speaking French, sorry for that!) it even faced a storm without damages. Can’t we think it would be a good idea to have such similar buildings for workplaces and storerooms in Neolithic villages?

Funny to see how our current traditions are so linked to that past. Who would have ever believed the Mexican sombreros were originally tools to make olive oil, then tequila in the New World? :blush:


It’s not that you couldn’t make lots of woven clothing, it’s just that the time and effort that you put in is so much greater then making the same clothing with leather. If leather were less advantageous, that could explain the reasoning, but leather is not less advantageous.

Leather is warmer unless you use a heavy gauge weave or multiple layers. Leather can be cooler unless you use very thin, and therefore very difficult to spin, flax. Having worn both leather and linen while spending hours doing my research, I can tell you that leather is vastly softer on the skin and feels much better. Leather also does not unravel if torn.

You have to explicitly work to make flax, while leather is a natural byproduct of hunting, something you would already be doing anyway. Further, flax eats up valuable growing space. Once crop rotation was understood, a benefit for this could be found to exist. Until that time, it would be seen as a detriment.

I think it is very likely that woven clothing had a status involved with it. I think it is quite likely that woven clothing was used by many members of the tribe, but mostly when it was very cold or for special significance.

I would say that I have spent well over a hundred hours wearing leather clothing that I made in both the summer and the winter, and probably 20 hours wearing linen, some that I made and some that I bought. I’ll choose leather any day, even though I leave and spin LOL


Something that occurred to me.

It might have been possible for ancient peoples to have whitened garments with a better quality of white than we might currently imagine possible,

As evidence I refer to ancient egyptian funerary figurines, both Usabhti and dioramas. In many cases the figures are depicted with white robes. Sometimes the white robes are soiled sometimes they are a very good modern white. I find this as much a case of status as the state of preservation of the model.

There are clean well preserved models where the figures wear dirty white cloths, and others where the whites are finer and cleaner.

This has as much to do with status of the character as the preservation of the artifact.

Royalty and those close in their service have the whitest garments as seen below

I remember a funerary diorama that I haven’t found online images for yet, of scribes working in a scriptorum cell, sitting cross legged with their cloths held taut so they served as desks. As scribes their cloths were very white, even now, and even though the deep earth tones of the rest of the model were evident.

I believe a measure of accuracy was desired for these models, and I thus to believe that a means of bleaching white cloth was available in ancient times. Perhaps we no longer know the methods used. The Bible refers to ‘launderers soap’

Malachi 3:2
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

Malachi is one of the latter prophets are likely one of the last portions of the Old Testament to be penned, so it is not indicative of how long the technology had been evident. However the Bible verse has something to tells us here when the religious symbology is concerning spiritual cleanliness, which is repeatedly in scripture referred to in terms of ‘gleaming’ ‘spotless’ and ‘pure’. A refiners fire can imply a practical level of purity to a metal, and I expect that for the passage to have meaning to the people it was written for the soap technology did also.

I am content to believe that a quality white garment was not beyond ancient peoples, the question is when and how prevelent. Nearly everyone in Ancient Egypt appeared to wear whites, either grubby whites or gleaming whites. This may well include agricultural workers, though as the ancient egyptian artists knew but modern artists omit, white will not remain white in a field for long.

While I agree with you that clothing, and more specifically the detail and quality of clothing, informed onlookers of a person’s status within society and that ancient Egyptians certainly could bleach linen without issue, I’m not sure I see any evidence for a better than modern bleaching method. Scientists have already analyzed bleached Egyptian textiles using mass spectrometry, XRF spectrometry (I do this one lol), and other techniques. They know what was used for bleaching. As for their coloring, the actual colors used may or may not have been more representative. Their palette of colors still rather limited at this time period. I’m sure they had very beautiful white linen clothing, but I just don’t see it exceeding our modern technology.

The ancient Egyptians existed several thousand years after the Western European Neolithic, which is what I was speaking about (apples != oranges). They are an entirely different culture and time. And were much more advanced than Western European Neolithic people in many ways. In fact, their quality of linen with have been much finer the Neolithic people could have made in a reasonable fashion ( someone with way too much time on their hands and some absurd need to make the finest linen ever could have potentially achieves similar quality and the Neolithic, with a lot of work LOL)

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Ok. I wasnt assuming that there was an ancient technology superior or equal to 21st century technologies. I am not that type of ‘historian’.

On that note I have wondered if there was an ancient advance or two that actually does exceed our own, and see no reason this could not be true. However any superiority would be narrow and limited to pure thought, either in philosophy or mathematics.
There is evidence for this, we have measurements of the moon from the Ancient Greeks accurate to a degree unmatched until the 20th century, and it is likely that we are missing something in terms of technique if not technology.
We now also know that some bronze age societies worked geometry in base 60 for easier rounding, again a matter of technique, but one superior to our decimal system for the purpose.

Ancient Egyptians need not to have washed whiter, but I do find it credible that they washed white.
My whites often turn out grey from cheap detergent in my student years, however students, at least male ones, are not examples of cutting edge domestic technology, perhaps students are a form of Sea People.


My apologies, I must of misinterpreted what you were saying.
As for the likelihood that we have much to discover, this I agree with completely.

As for the timing, we don’t know when Egyptians started using ‘advanced textiles’. and Egypt goes back a long ways. Rate of technological advance was slow, close to negligible for most of the period, with a tech race only appearing in the later empire.
I am hesitant to suggest that ancient Egyptian evidence is not relevant for purpose as we have a good idea of technologies available, we have less of an idea as to when they were invented or adopted.

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It’s certainly true that we don’t know exactly when they started, but that’s not to say that plenty isn’t known about the Neolithic Egyptians. From the Faiyum to the Naqada cultures, there pretty good historical sites to examine.

We don’t know when they started weaving, but we definitely know it happened long before the dynastic periods. Here’s a figurine of a woman from the Naqada period. Now it’s quite possible she’s wearing leather, but I would bet you money that she’s wearing something woven like Lenin. It also appears bleached, though we can’t know this for sure as this might interest in the paint that they used.

I would point out that a skirt is a lot easier to make than a tunic, by the way. I’m just starting work right now on weaving an early Neolithic linen tunic, and making a skirt like this would be tremendously easier lol

Interesting piece and an interesting shape. How big is it.

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Unsure, but just eyeballing the clay I would guess 6 to 10 inches.
It’s easier to tell sizes from low temperature fired clay, like this, because it’s so course and you can get a good feel for the scale from the size of the pitting.

Though the woman’s is based off of lived 2000 years before ancient Egypt, you can see the style is quite similar. In fact, but this woman is wearing would remain standard clothing for at least 3000 more years. (Though I suspect somebody who studied ancient Egypt would know better about this LOL)

I was looking an Naqada figurines just now. There are many types as we ought to expect. It might be a religious idol, or a hand held ceremonial baton. But, I think it is something else.

A free standing idols. Maybe they were hand held in ceremonies of stood in a niche for household gods, or was for an altar.

I think the piece you showed was more like this.

She doesn’t have much in the way of feet. But there is a distinctive shape and a handle.
in the first image the shape of the torso and arms, especially the arms give the image you posted away. Her arms are above her head, but not necessarily in the air, perhaps she is having fun.
I hazard a guess that the item you linked to and the last one I did are in fact sex toys. We know the Egyptians were a rather hot blooded lot, and the racier parts of their culture are edited out for modern sensibilities. I think archeologists have been mislabelling dildos as figurines subconsciously for decades now, and I chuckle when I see what likely is one.

Well, such toys have been found. I have seen them in the British Royal Museum and read many articles about them. However, I think you might find that none of those objects you posted would be desirable for that particular practice. You would want something significantly more smooth. Those would cause pain and injury.

They definitely had such things, but the construction of them is slightly different.
Here is an article about an actual such object from a much earlier time period, found in Germany.

I have to in part take your word for that as a bloke. But allowing for what sells as sex toys nowadays, the size may well be reasonable, and life was harder then and people were tougher.

In any case the legs are smooth and in a very regular shape, widening to ‘fit to taste’ one might say. I think this makes sense because these items were not found categorised by size in a catalogue and delivered in anonymous brown paper. Tools had to last, especially those not essential to survival, they might have also been passed on at some stage. So having a standardised shape makes sense.

I think the white textiles on the first figurne have double purpose, to depict clothing, but also because the item was heavily painted or glazed to be smoothed if used for the purpose I think they are for…

Well, we may have to just disagree on that point. I can guarantee you that few people could utilize such a figurine for such a manner without requiring a trip to the emergency room. =/