TBT: The World’s Oldest Pair of Pants Are 3,000 Years Old

Levi Strauss & Co.
July 24, 2014

This year, Science News uncovered a brand new discovery—the world’s oldest pair of pants. Their age? Roughly about 3,000-3,300 years old! The remains of the men who wore those pants have been unearthed from tombs in Central Asia. It appears the men were nomadic herders who probably had no idea that their trouser-like pants would one day become world-cherished memorabilia.

The pants, which were uncovered by a team from the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner, sport straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, made of—sadly, not denim—but ancient wool. The trousers, according to the archaeologists, resemble modern day horse riding pants.

Of course, here at LS&Co., we’re thrilled about this discovery (probably more than most!) because of our emphatic love of pants and our historical role in the evolution of the garment. Fun fact: at LS&Co.’s San Francisco headquarters, we keep the oldest pair of blue jeans stored securely in a fire proof safe in the LS&Co.  Archives. Levi’s® jeans and the oldest pair of pants also share a horse link—our classic logo depicts two strong horses unable to pull apart our blue jeans, a symbol of their durability.

And from this recent finding, it seems horses play an even more pivotal part of the pants lineage that we thought! While many thought robes and togas were the garments of choice among Europeans and Asians 5,300 years ago, the discovery of this ancient piece of clothing points to a fascinating insight: horseback riding might be responsible for the birth of the pants as we know it.

The act of horseback riding, as linguist and China authority Victor Mair tells Science News, began some 3,400-4,000 years ago, followed closely by the advent of trouser making. The men who wore the trousers were also buried with horse ephemera, including a horse bit, a leather bridle, a whip, and a decorated horsetail.

While the pants that were uncovered in Asia were a bit less tailored than our Levi’s® 501® jeans—they were sewn together from three large pieces of brown cloth, with no cutting involved, and included side strings for tightening—this finding marks an incredibly compelling new chapter in the evolution of clothing making.

At LS&Co., our history is a vital part of our culture; it defines our past, informs our present and influences our future—and we’re thrilled by the remarkable discovery of the world’s oldest pair of pants. We just hope one day, 3,000 years from now, that the discovery of the world’s oldest pair of Levi’s® jeans can inform and delight the generations of designers and clothing enthusiasts yet to come.

Check out Science News for the full story on the world’s oldest pants here. And here’s a photo of our own oldest pair of pants: