Archaeologists are excited by their latest discovery. They have recently found the world’s oldest dyed material, and it originates from Ancient Peru. It seems like the people inhabiting the Andes used indigo blue dye to color fabrics, and this may stand as a proof of their aesthetical needs and skills.
The oldest dyed material in the world was found in Northern Peru. Researchers estimate that the fabric is more than six thousand years old. They only found some scraps, but this is enough evidence to prove that ancient tribes used colors much earlier than initially thought.
Previous findings indicated that Egyptian people were the first to discover the uses of dyes. However, the Peruvian relic is about 1,600 years older than the Egyptian one, belonging to the Fifth Dynasty.
Researchers state that the dyed material didn’t reveal its true colors at first. They found it buried, yet quite well preserved. It was only after washing it that the specialists were able to observe the indigo blue color it was hiding. They are aware that this might be the world’s oldest color used to dye fabric.
Specialists studied the dyed material, as well as the features of the era that it belongs to. According to their research, native American tribes were able to extract components from plants, which they could then use to paint fabric. They think that there is a high possibility that ancient people might have used Indigofera, a common plant in South America. This plant has special substances which can imprint bluish color.
However, this is not the only method to extract colors from the natural world. History provides us with evidence the Egyptians, for instance, used sea snails to produce indigo colors.
The recent research on the Peruvian dyed materials shows that five of the eight scraps contain indigo blue dye. All of them are about a foot square and seem to have been parts of accessories such as bags, and not proper garments. The material used seems to be cotton.
Jeffrey Splitstoser is one of the archaeologists who examined the oldest dyed material in the world. When first seeing the cotton pieces, the thought that they looked similar to blue jeans which fade over time.
Nowadays, producing dye falls under the category of synthetic processes. The indigo blue color is now associated with the blue jeans that are so popular today. Researchers believe that the history of the color started back in the ancient times of the Peruvian tribes.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia