Oldest Indigo-dyed fabric in world discovered

Oldest Indigo-dyed fabric in world discovered

During a 2009 excavation of HuacaPrieta, a Peruvian ceremonial mound, archaeologists have discovered a 6,200-year-old piece of indigo dyed fabric. Upon testing the samples, researchers came to know that the cotton scraps were at least 1,800 years older than the next-oldest instances of indigo dye use.

Study’s lead researcher Jeffrey Splitstoser said that the cotton used in that time’s fabric is the same that is grown today and is known as Egyptian cotton. The researchers have shared that the cloth scarps were found in-between layers of a ramp that led up to the temple.

Initially, archaeology workers could not know about blue coloring. It was only when the cloth was gently washed and a technique called high-performance liquid chromatography was used and then the researchers came to know that they were actually holding the oldest indigo-dyed fabric in the world.

In total there were eight samples and of them, five were found to be having traces of indigo. As per researchers, the three might have degraded over time. Traditional indigo dye was the result of an organic compound known as indigoid, found in plants like Indigofera, which is also considered as the possible source of the HuacaPrieta indigo dye.

But now, the dye used for blue jean is produced synthetically. “The people of the Americas were making scientific and technological contributions as early as and in this case even earlier than people were in other parts of the world”, affirmed Splitstoser.

Not much is known about the technological contributions made by National America as many of them were replaced by European systems at the time of the conquest, unveiled the researchers in the journal Science Advances.

"The ancestors of the pants you’re wearing today could be include ancient Peruvian dyeing techniques, scientists say, after the discovery of a 6,200-year-old piece of indigo dyed fabric," according to a news report published by CS Monitor.

Archaeologists discovered the ancient cloth samples during the 2009 excavation of a Peruvian ceremonial mound known as Huaca Prieta. After dating the dyed cotton scraps, researchers discovered that their samples were at least 1,800 years older than the next-oldest instances of indigo dye use, found in Egypt.

"The cotton used in Huaca Prieta fabrics, Gossypium barbadense, is the same species grown today known as Egyptian cotton," the study's lead author, Jeffrey Splitstoser, said in a press release. "And that's not the only cotton connection we made in this excavation – we may well not have had blue jeans if it weren't for the ancient South Americans."

A report published in LA Times informed, "The ancient Peruvian fabric is more than 1,500 years older than the earliest known Egyptian fabrics with indigo-dyed borders and 3,000 years older than the first blue-dyed textiles in China, according to a study published this week in the journal Science Advances."

“It is possible it is the earliest known example of cloth dyeing in the world,” said Jeffrey Splitstoser, a textile expert in the department of anthropology at George Washington University. “I don’t know of anything older.”

The blue-tinged pieces of cloth were unearthed at Huaca Prieta, an ancient ceremonial mound on the north coast of Peru that was occupied between 14,500 and 4,000 years ago. Thousands of squares of the prehistoric textiles have been found at the site. Splitstoser said he has personally examined 800 of them.

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