Last year, archaeologists discovered sewing needles in Siberia that were 20,000 years old. A recent paper draws together what we know of our ancestors’ clothing habits:
“Many of the needles we discovered were not simply used to manufacture clothes but for embroidery and ornaments. There was an aesthetic role,” says Francesco d’Errico, an anthropologist at the University of Bordeaux in France and a co-author of the study.
As for sewing and clothing in general:
We do not know which Homo species—neanderthalensis or sapiens—first pioneered the practice of wearing furs. But by 76,000 years ago, anthropologists believe that Homo sapiens were creating bone awls, a precursor to the needle, in South Africa. In the millennia to follow, artifacts suggest most prehistoric clothing production was occurring in the Northern Hemisphere, where cooler climes made extra insulation helpful. Jacob Pagano, “Sewing Needles Reveal the Roots of Fashion” at Sapiens
If needles were used for embroidery, the embroiderers must have had a strong sense of symbolic thought. Embroidery is not an especially good way of representing objects naturally; one uses it to represent ideas, symbols, and patterns. The missing link is still missing.
See also: Did Neanderthals Create The First Spanish Cave Paintings?
Academic bombshell: Neanderthal art found.
Researchers: Ancient Peoples Knew Their Astronomy, Some Of The Oldest Cave Paintings Show
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