Blue Jeans Technology Developed In Peru 6,000 Years Ago

Posted: Sep 15 2016, 5:04am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Blue Jeans Technology Developed in Peru 6,000 Years Ago
A George Washington University researcher has identified a 6,200-year-old textile dyed indigo-blue from Huaca, Peru, a piece of dyed cotton produced more than 1,800 years before the previously known oldest textile in that color. Credit: Lauren Urana

Editorial comment: Deal with it Levi's.

We may have Peruvians to thank for our favorite blue jeans as researchers have traced the earliest use of indigo as a dye to a 6,200-year-old fabric discovered during an excavation at Huaca Prieta on the north coast of Peru.

The finding points to the sophisticated textile technology ancient Andean people developed, said the study led author Jeffrey Splitstoser, Assistant Research Professor at George Washington University.

"The cotton used in Huaca Prieta fabrics, Gossypium barbadense, is the same species grown today known as Egyptian cotton," Splitstoser said.

"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," Splitstoser noted.

The discovery, published in the journal Science Advances, marks the earliest use of indigo as a dye, a technically-challenging color to produce.

"Some of the world's most significant technological achievements were developed first in the New World," Splitstoser said.

"Many people, however, remain mostly unaware of the important technological contributions made by Native Americans, perhaps because so many of these technologies were replaced by European systems during the conquest. However, the fine fibers and sophisticated dyeing, spinning and weaving practices developed by ancient South Americans were quickly co-opted by Europeans," Splitstoser explained.

The development of indigo dye was critical for future trends in fashion, fabrics and textile arts, he said.

The textile is exhibited in the Cao Museum collection in Peru.

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