What Did Ancient Sumerians Wear for Clothes?
Ancient Sumer, which was home to a population of people as far back as 4,500 B.C., was the backdrop for many innovations that have had lasting, indelible impacts on civilization -- think writing. While advancements in ancient Sumer were significant, the everyday attire of its citizens was often somewhat basic, made from materials such as flax and wool.
1 Skirts for Both Genders
Knee-length skirts were a typical piece of clothing for men and women alike in ancient Sumer. They used sheep hide to manufacture these skirts. The exterior portions of these skirts displayed clusters of wool, while the interiors were the skins. The Sumerians secured these skirts with big pins. While hide and unprocessed wool were big early components of Sumerian clothing, fabric produced out of wool started to gain traction around roughly 2,500 B.C.
2 Flax and Ancient Sumerian Clothing
When ancient Sumerians produced clothing, they generally relied on materials that were the most easily accessible. Flax, like wool from sheep, was a particularly common material in Sumerian apparel. Flax is a plant with rough stalks. These stalks have fibers that can be used to make cloth. The fibers of flax plants were rather diverse. Some were extremely smooth and soft in texture, while others were just the opposite.
3 Common Male Attire
Sumerian men at one point wore very little, generally just wool kilts to cover their lower bodies. In time, their everyday clothing evolved into something a bit more elaborate, specifically lengthy coverings that ranged from their lower legs all the way up to their shoulders. In hot weather, these coverings were usually made out of soft flax. When the weather was colder, they wore clothing made out of wool. The borders of these coverings often had ornamental trimming, as well.
4 Common Female Attire
Sumerian women dressed in lengthy coverings that generally left single arms and single sides of their shoulders visible. Their left arms were usually hidden. This clothing typically covered their bodies all the way down to their ankles. The dresses were often made to closely outline their physiques.
5 Introduction to Weaving
Some of the most primitive Sumerian clothing was produced by sewing animal hides together. They didn't remove the fleece when they did this, so the fleece would dangle conspicuously. This was eliminated when weaving became a common practice in Sumer. Priestesses, however, were required to emulate the older looks. Priestesses wore specially produced wool apparel that replicated the appearance of the older styles.
6 Ancient Sumerian Accessories
Accessories were a big element of male and female Sumerian dress. Bracelets, pendants, headdresses and necklaces were common forms of jewelry in ancient Sumer. Their jewelry was often made of silver or gold. They often used these types of accessories to complete outfits for religious celebrations. Other gemstones were also frequently used in jewelry, specifically carnelian, a reddish-orange gemstone.
- 1 Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World; Joyce E. Salisbury
- 2 Living in Ancient Mesopotamia; Norman Bancroft Hunt
- 3 Empires of Ancient Mesopotamia; Barbara A. Somervill
- 4 Encyclopedia of the Ancient World; Shona Grimbly
- 5 Gardner's Art Through the Ages; Fred S. Kleiner
- 6 Encyclopedia Britannica: Sumer