Tarkhan dress

“The Tarkhan dress” (UC 28614B) discovered by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1913, was found within the Tarkhan Necropolis (Mastaba 2050).

Certified radiocarbon dating conducted by the University of Oxford, places the creation of this garment to Egypt’s 1st Dynasty, c. 3000 – 2800 B.C. Further testing by the British Museum certified its dating.

The Tarkhan dress
The Tarkhan dress

“The Tarkhan Dress” is one of multiple pieces of textile, linen and clothing found in the Tarkhan Necropolis, but it was in 1977, that the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Textile Conservation Workshop working to clean these items of linen, discovered that this piece was a purposely designed item of clothing, with clear signs of pleated fabric that are still visible today.

As of 2023, The Tarkhan Dress remains the oldest purposely designed and woven garment in the world.

“The garment had clearly been worn in life, because it was found inside-out, as it very well might have been after having been pulled over the head with distinct signs of creasing at the elbows and under the armpits.” – Rosalind Hall (Lecturer in Egyptology at the Institute of Archaeology)

The “dress” is similar or some may even say identical to the Egyptian Galabyia جلابية still worn in Egypt today. In a piece written for the University College London, Janet Johnstone suggests that according to the sizing and missing hem, it is possible that the item could have been made for a female.