• weird strange History Egypt socks odd Ancient knitting Greece wool prehistoric 300 AD Oxyrhynchus ancient Greek colonies ancient artifacts ancient knitting ancient socks burial grounds nålbindning single-needle knitting single-thread knitting worlds oldest socks wool socks red wool socks odditiesoflife •
weird strange History Egypt socks odd Ancient knitting Greece wool prehistoric 300 AD Oxyrhynchus ancient Greek colonies ancient artifacts ancient knitting ancient socks burial grounds nålbindning single-needle knitting single-thread knitting worlds oldest socks wool socks red wool socks

World’s Oldest Socks

These odd, ancient socks are the earliest knitted items in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collection and quite possibly the oldest socks in the world. Made in 300-499 AD, these Egyptian socks were excavated in the burial grounds of ancient Oxyrhynchus, a Greek colony on the Nile in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. They have a divided toe and are designed to be worn with sandals.

Particularly intriguing is the technique used to construct these red wool socks. Called nålbindning, or single-needle knitting, this time-consuming process required only a single thread. The technique was frequently used for close-fitting garments for the head, feet and hands because of its elastic qualities. Primarily from prehistoric times, nålbindning came before the two-needle knitting that’s standard today; each needle was crafted from wood or bone that was “flat, blunt and between 6 -10 cm long, relatively large-eyed at one end or the eye is near the middle.”


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