Archaeologists find evidence in a Chinese cemetery suggesting that men wearing dresses when horseback riding were rubbed the wrong way, leading to the creation of pants.
After finding two pairs of trousers, researcher Mayke Wagner and her colleagues from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, concluded that men wearing dresses to ride horses were rubbed the wrong way, leading to the creation of pants.
The archaeologists were working in an ancient burial ground, the Yanghai cemetery, in Western China, when they found the trousers. The trousers are estimated to be between 3,000 and 3,300 years old and are believed to belong to herdsmen and warriors. Wagner believes the need for trousers arose when humans began using horses for transportation, work and warfare. Carbon data tests show that the woolen trousers were created around the time of horse husbandry, consistent with Wagner’s supposition.
“During normal movements the inner parts of the legs, the crotch and the lower abdomen are not exposed to friction over an extended period of time,” Wagner told New Scientist. “This only becomes an issue when straddling a horse daily.”
The Washington Post writes that, previous to the creation of pants, both sexes wore dresses, though today the names for male dresses are more commonly referred to as robes, togas and tunics. Of course with these ‘dresses,’ there was no protection between the horseback and the rider, creating the problem of chafing.
The tailors of the time devised a solution for this problem: stitch together three pieces of cloth – two long rectangles for the legs connected by a shorter piece near the crotch.
“The surprise in these trousers is the woven cross-stepped [crotch piece] that provides the expected functional aspects of crotch protection and full movement, but also coverage of the inner thigh that is needed on horseback,” Abby Lillethun, an associate professor of art and design at Montclair State University, told New Scientist.
These tombs were part of a dig including 500 tombs altogether. The scientists excavating these tombs believe that the men were around 40 years old when they died. Along with the pants, the archaeologists also found riding gear in the tombs, solidifying the theory that the bond between man and horse was made around this time.