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When were trousers first worn?

To the Romans and Greeks, trousers were the ultimate symbol of the horse-riding barbarian

19th-century men in traditional dress, Marken Island, Netherlands.
Published: October 12, 2015 at 4:22 pm
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To the Romans and Greeks, trousers were the ultimate symbol of the horse-riding barbarian.


To have material wrapped around your legs was, to these ancient civilisations, effeminate, to be avoided by civilised males in preference for the bare-legged tunic or skirt.

The Romans, in particular, were deeply suspicious of trousers, until, that is, their soldiers marched into Northern Europe and they suddenly came to realise the importance of wearing warm breeches in colder climates.

Yet, it wasn’t the hordes of Gaul who invented trousers. The history of the garment goes back to prehistoric times.

One of the earliest examples of ‘trouser-like’ clothing was found on the body of ‘Otzi’, the 5,000-year-old mummified man preserved in Alpine ice. He was discovered in 1991 by a German tourist.

Otzi, who is thought to have lived around 3300 BC, was uncovered with his leather leggings, supported by suspenders and tied to a belt.

It was not only trousers that were found with Otzi, but items and clothing to suggest that he was a traveller. He, it can be surmised, wore a robe made of fur, a woven grass cape and leather shoes that he would stuff with grass to protect him from the cold.

Otzi was also found with a collection of weapons and hunting tools, including an axe with a copper head, a dagger sharpened from flint and a bow and quiver of arrows.


This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine


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