Authors Name: 
Joe Thompson
University: 
University of Edinburgh
Category: 
Classical Studies & Archaeology
Award winner

Discuss the Evidence (Both Direct and Inferred) for Clothing in the British Palaeolithic

The evidence for clothing in the British Palaeolithic is by nature not well-preserved. By working backwards chronologically, considering early modern human evidence, Neanderthal and finally pushing back to the very earliest humans inhabiting Britain, we can carefully construct an understanding of hominin technological development. The evidence for clothing that need to be considered are unambiguous Upper Palaeolithic textile manufacturing tools, worked flax strands, inferences from hunting techniques, red ochre use, artistic representations and the genetics of lice. These convincingly tie together into a picture of extensive and complex clothing use by early modern humans. For earlier human species the best evidence comes from the considerations of the biogeographical limits of hominin cold-endurance. These, it is argued, have not been used to their full potential by some scholars and in combination with hints from the archaeological record, including lithic assemblages and hunting patterns, point to a deeper chronology for forms of clothing than is widely acknowledged. Denying early humans the wherewithal to manufacture clothing is portrayed as the last gasp of an antiquated paradigm.