This week I have been largely distracted by socks.
What a lot of interesting and pretty examples. The ones made for children, Anne states, are the most colourful.
|Child's sock dyed with madder, woad and weld. A left-foot sock. Found in Antinopolis (el-Minya), dated c300 AD. British Museum EA53193|
They are not knit but made by making loops with a needle with eye, nalbinding. A video on the technique can be seen here. Note that these are two-toed to accommodate the wearing of sandals.
But when were the earliest Egyptian socks worn? There are probable socks from the tomb of Tutankhamun, though others believe they were riding gauntlets.(1). I tend to go with Vogelsang-Eastwood and believe they are socks. She believes that the socks were part of a charioteer's clothing and may have been a gift from Mitanni (northern Syria). The socks are made from woven linen with a fine linen inside and a coarser one outside. They have ties at the ankle. I'm afraid I couldn't find a copyright free picture but you could google them to see.
The earliest unequivocal ancient Egyptian socks date to the 2nd or 3rd centuries AD, that is the period during which the Romans had conquered Egypt. These were usually made using nalbinding technology though a slip-stitch crochet example is known:
|Slip-stitch crochet sock, George Washington Textile Museum 73.719|
A google search suggests that the first mention of socks was by the Greek poet Hesiod in the 8th century BC. In his poem Works and Days (536), he writes:
As for your feet, fasten onto them tight-fitting boots made from the hide of a slaughtered ox. Make them snug with felt on the inside.
Most of these Roman Egyptian examples are made of wool but a linen example has even been found.
|Linen sock, George Washington Museum 73.714|
I really like some of the even later examples, the Islamic Period ones like these. They may well be knitted. The earliest knitted examples date from the 11th century AD onwards.
|George Washington Textile Museum. 73.619. The Kufic script repeats the name of Allah. |
|Cooper Hewitt Collection. Again, the Kufic script repeats the name of Allah,|
Socks are not the only way to keep your feet warm. You could wear footwraps. These were used by several groups, including Russian armies, up until the mid 20th century and later. I wonder if some of the squares of linen found in Egyptian Museums might be footwraps?
If you think they look odd (like I did) remember, that two-toed or tabi socks are still worn today. Here are a couple of examples. Perfect for wearing with thong-sandals.
Another great talk here: