Tarkhan dress

The Tarkhan Dress, named for the Tarkhan cemetery south of Cairo in Egypt where it was excavated in 1913, is an over 5000 year old linen garment that was confirmed as the world's oldest piece of women's clothing.[2][1]

Tarkhan dress
Tarkhan dress
Createdc. 3482 – 3201 BC[1]
Tarkhan, Egypt
Discovered bySir Flinders Petrie
Present locationPetrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

The dress coded UC28614B is currently in the collection of the University College London (UCL) Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.[3] Radiocarbon testing in 1978 dated the item to around 2362 BCE,[3] though a further test in 2015 by the University of Oxford affirms, with 95% accuracy, that the dress dates from between 3482 and 3102 BCE.[1]


The dress was discovered in 1913 during the second season of Sir Flinders Petrie's excavations of the Tarkhan necropolis.[1][3] During the excavation of Mastaba 2050, the dress was found alongside other linen outside of the Mastaba. It is theorised that these linens may have been thrown out later in antiquity and sanded over, which preserved the artefacts.[3] The linen was sent to the University College London for analysis, where it lay untouched for sixty five years.[4]

The dress was rediscovered in 1977 by conservationists at the Victoria and Albert Museum who were sorting through and cleaning 'funerary rags'.[3]


The dress has a weave of 22–23 warps per centimetre, and 13–14 wefts per centimetre creating a grey stripe in the warp, possibly for a decorative effect.[5] The main body of the dress was 76 centimetre wide straight piece of material. The hem of the dress is missing, leaving the original length unknown.[5][4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Lobel, Jarrett A. (2016). "Dressing for the Ages". Archaeology. Vol. 69, no. 3. p. 9. ISSN 0003-8113. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  2. ^ Lobell, Jarrett A. (2017). "World's Oldest Dress". Archaeology. Vol. 70, no. 1. Tarkhan, Egypt. ISSN 0003-8113. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Landi & Hall 1979, p. 141.
  4. ^ a b Johnstone, Janet (4 June 2015). Alice Stevenson (ed.). Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections. UCL Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-1910634356.
  5. ^ a b Landi & Hall 1979, p. 143.


Further readingEdit