7,000 years ago there was no Macy’s, no Van’s, no Fred Perry’s and no barbershop. Fashion existed but in a much different form. Europeans dressed in-line with their class level, with peasants dressing far differently from nobles.
It turns out that even upon burial, fashion was important. In the first study of its kind, archaeologists have identified the garment of a body that was buried between 4950 and 4800 BC in the Mediterranean.
The male, believed to be about 5’5″ tall, was buried with a design of seashells lining his jacket as well as the teeth of red deer. Now this isn’t to be confused with the ‘Red Deer Cave people’ of China, which was a discovery made a couple years about a group of pre-modern humans who lived between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago.
The actual animal known as the red deer lived in various parts of Europe during this time period (or a little before), likely migrating south towards the Mediterranean during the winter months. However, experts claim that red deer would not have traveled quite so far south as to be in the same area where this body was buried.
A total of 16 canine teeth from the red deer were found embroidered on the garment of the buried man. Seashells were also on the garment and were painted red.
Not surprisingly, a good portion of the body was missing, making it harder for researchers to reconstruct the design of the garment. The person’s skull, most of his legs, and his hands were not intact.
Are burials like this very common? Experts believe no. While this particular burial could be unique, it represents a time period full of experimentation. Different groups of people would try burying individuals in a variety of ways. Not because of any cultural significance, just for the sake of trying.
Over the next few thousand years, European societies would develop more intricate burial practices based on a series of closely held mythological beliefs. During the 4th century, the Greeks began burying their dead in elaborate tombs with painted walls and rich grave goods. An example? Phillip II of Macedon. He was assassinated, then buried in the Great Tumulus of Aigai near modern Vergina in Greece with a golden larnax and golden grave crown.
Exquisite burials are a large part of world cultures over the years in an effort to honor the dead. This man from 7,000 years ago is just another example of it.