Washington, September 11 (ANI): A team of archaeologists and paleobiologists has discovered flax fibers that are more than 34,000 years old, making them the oldest fibers known to have been used by humans.
The fibers were discovered during systematic excavations in a cave in the Republic of Georgia.
The flax, which would have been collected from the wild and not farmed, could have been used to make linen and thread, according to the researchers.
The cloth and thread would then have been used to fashion garments for warmth, sew leather pieces, make cloths, or tie together packs that might have aided the mobility of our ancient ancestors from one camp to another.
“This was a critical invention for early humans. They might have used this fiber to create parts of clothing, ropes, or baskets-for items that were mainly used for domestic activities,” said Ofer Bar-Yosef of the Harvard University, who jointly led the research with George Grant MacCurdy and Janet G. B. MacCurdy.
“We know that this is wild flax that grew in the vicinity of the cave and was exploited intensively or extensively by modern humans,” he added.
The items created with these fibers increased early humans chances of survival and mobility in the harsh conditions of this hilly region.
The flax fibers could have been used to sew hides together for clothing and shoes, to create the warmth necessary to endure cold weather.
They might have also been used to make packs for carrying essentials, which would have increased and eased mobility, offering a great advantage to a hunter-gatherer society.
Some of the fibers were twisted, indicating they were used to make ropes or strings. Others had been dyed.
Early humans used the plants in the area to color the fabric or threads made from the flax.
Today, these fibers are not visible to the eye, because the garments and items sewed together with the flax have long ago disintegrated.
Bar-Yosef, Eliso Kvavadze of the Institute of Paleobiology, and colleagues, discovered the fibers by examining samples of clay retrieved from different layers of the cave under a microscope.
Bar-Yosef and his team used radiocarbon dating to date the layers of the cave as they dug the site, revealing the age of the clay samples in which the fibers were found.
Flax fibers were also found in the layers that dated to about 21,000 and 13,000 years ago. (ANI)