2400 bce

Things that irk me/make me ponder:

So, Sumerian and Akkadian Mesopotamia was overwhelmingly was a textile based society- wool was their main exportable resource, and we know they had large-scale workshops exporting textile products from the Sargonic Period at least (2400 BCE). Wool, textiles and weaving were utterly fundamental to Sumerian/Akkadian life and culture, but no actual examples have survived.

So why do artist’s depictions of Mesopotamia always only ever show people wearing, plain, white largely undecorated clothing? However lovely the art, the people always seem sterile and colourless, and are all dressed identically.

Now, the plain, undecorated skirt or one-shoulder tunic with a tufted bottom does absolutely have a precedent in Mesopotamian statues. It’s what almost every Sumerian statue or votive is wearing:

There are hundreds more examples.

But those statues are virtually always of three types of people- kings, priests, and high-ranking male worshippers who commissioned votives of themselves.

It’s entirely possible that the almost undecorated white skirt was an equivalent of the Roman Toga Virilis- a high status garment only for extremely high-ranking men.

This is one of the few truly detailed statues of a woman from Ancient Mesoptamia:

Doesn’t that look like embroidery?

Anyway, it’s entirely possible that ordinary Mesopotamians, and maybe higher ranking women, could have looked more like this:

Both above examples from the traditional dress of the Kalash people in Northern Pakistan, just to show how colourful things could have been for all we know, though in reality, the colours were probably a little more muted due to inefficient dyes. Here are some examples of traditional dress and textiles from around modern Iraq:

(Both the traditional clothes of modern day Assyrian people, astonishingly similar to ancient depictions).

We know from painting examples in Anatolia that patterns drawn on walls 8000 years ago are still used on textiles in the same area today. This is what the traditional embroidery of the Ma’adan people, whose culture is believed to have been in many ways unchanged from Sumeria up until the 1990s looks like. 

#Picture the Sumerians wearing colours 2017

A CYCLADIC MARBLE HEAD ATTRIBUTED TO THE SCHUSTER SCULPTOR, EARLY CYCLADIC II, LATE SPEDOS TO DOKATHISMATA VARIETY, CIRCA 2400 BCE.
With a lyre-shaped head angled backwards, aquiline nose, and a crescent-shaped ridge at the rear of the head
7.7 cm / 3 inches high.
ID201603
Private Collection, UK

Gabriele Beveridge & Neolithic Idols (10,000 - 2000 BCE), CHEWDAY’S, Frieze London, 2016

Lion Fighting a Snake Chlorite Vessel with inscription, “Inanna and the Serpent.” Temple of Inanna, Nippur, Iraq. Early Dynastic II/III Period. ca. 2600-2400 BCE.

Seahenge
also known as Holme I, was a prehistoric monument located in the village of Holme-next-the-Sea, near Old Hunstanton in the English county of Norfolk. A timber circle with an upturned tree root in the centre, Seahenge was apparently built in the 21st century BCE, during the early Bronze Age in Britain, most likely for ritual purposes.The site consisted of an outer ring comprising fifty-five small split oak trunks forming a roughly circular enclosure around 7 by 6 metres (23 by 20 ft). Rather than being placed in individual holes, the timbers had been arranged around a circular construction trench. Their split sides faced inwards and their bark faced outwards (with one exception where the opposite is the case). One of the trunks on the south western side had a narrow Y fork in it, permitting access to the central area. Another post had been placed outside this entrance, which would have prevented anyone from seeing inside. The timbers were set in ground to a depth of 1-metre (3 ft 3 in) from the contemporary surface although how far they originally extended upwards is not known. In the centre of the ring was a large inverted oak stump. 
Holme I was excavated in October 1998, and now resides at the Lynn Museum in King’s Lynn and opened to the public in April 2008.

One hundred metres east, another older ring has been found, consisting of two concentric timber circles surrounding a hurdle lined pit containing two oak logs. Known as Holme II, it dates to the centuries before Holme I (c. 2400-2030 BCE) although the two sites may have been in use together.
Although also threatened with destruction by the sea, this site has been left in situ and exposed to the tidal actions of the sea. Archaeologists have suggested that this decision by English Heritage relates to the controversy over digging Holme I.