Imaging tool unravels secrets of child's sock from ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians famously gave us paper and the pyramids, but were also early adopters of the stripy sock.

Scientists at the British Museum have developed pioneering imaging to discover how enterprising Egyptians used dyes on a child’s sock, recovered from a rubbish dump in ancient Antinoupolis in Roman Egypt, and dating from 300AD.

New multispectral imaging can establish which dyes were used – madder (red), woad (blue) and weld (yellow) – but also how people of the late antiquity period used double and sequential dying and weaving, and twisting fibres to create myriad colours from their scarce resources.

Crucially, the imaging is non-invasive. Previously studying ancient textiles using radiocarbon dating and dye analysis required physical samples to be taken. Read more.

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