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An Ancient Egyptian Striped Sock Dating Back To 300 A.D. Was Fished Out Of A Garbage Dump And Is Believed To Have Belonged To A Child

Givaga - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

During the early 1900s, an ancient Egyptian sock was fished out of a garbage dump and is believed to have been meant for the left foot of a child.

The sock was first discovered in an excavation of a landfill that took place in the Egyptian city of Antinoöpolis from 1913 to 1914. The project was led by English papyrologist John de Monins Johnson.

The sock is striped, colorful, and dates back to 300 A.D. It was crafted in the traditional Egyptian style with individual compartments for each of the toes, a design innovation that allowed ancient Egyptians to wear socks with their sandals.

The artifact ended up in the collections of the British Museum in London, where researchers conducted studies on it.

To analyze the sock, they employed a non-invasive technique called multispectral imaging to scan its surface for pigments.

“Previously, you would have to take a small piece of the material from different areas,” said Dr. Joanne Dyer, the lead author of the study and a scientist at the British Museum.

“And this sock is from 300 A.D. It’s tiny, it’s fragile, and you would have to physically destroy part of this object. Whereas with both the [multispectral] imaging and other techniques, you have a very good preliminary indication of what these could be,” she continued.

The research team learned that only three plant-based dyes were used to make the sock—madder roots, woad leaves, and weld flowers—which resulted in the colors red, blue, and yellow. Some of the colors were mixed to create shades of orange, purple, and green.

They also detected an intricate weaving process. In some cases, differently colored fibers were spun together, and individual yarns were dyed multiple times. Considering that the sock is so small, these were impressive feats.

Givaga – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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