Archaeology of Underwear: Digging below the surface of the late middle ages yields bright linen garments from the end of the Dark Age….. Die Ausgrabungen von Unterhosen?


Ah, Beloved Austria!  Innsbruck and the Beautiful Tyrol no less—thoughts of Mediaeval Romance!  This is why we got into archaeology, isn’t it, Indy?  Actually, very modern looking bras and bikinis are both preserved in ancient Roman frescos & ceramic painting from Pompei, Herculaneum, and even in (relatively) more stuffy, stodgy contexts in Greece—but after all, THESE unterhosen are from the so called “Dark Ages” of Europe—albeit very LATE in the Mediaeval period…really the extremely early renaissance if this date of 600 years ago is correct (1412?)–but we’re talking about Rural Austria here, neither Vienna nor Rome nor Paris…. so the stylistic implications are that these were as normal then as now… throughout Europe….

600-year-old linen bras found in Austrian castle

  • By George Jahn Associated Press
  • Posted July 18, 2012 at 5:03 p.m.
This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012  by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University  Innsbruck Archeological Institute)<br /><br /><br />

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012 by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows medieval underwear. The find, formally announced Wednesday by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn  around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. (AP Photo/University  Innsbruck Archeological Institute)<br /><br /><br />

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows medieval underwear. The find, formally announced Wednesday by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)

VIENNA — A revolutionary discovery is rewriting the history of underwear: Some 600 years ago, women wore bras.

The University of Innsbruck said Wednesday that archeologists found four linen bras dating from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle. Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra had commonly been thought to be only little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset.

Instead, it appears the bra came first, followed by the corset, followed by the reinvented bra.

One specimen in particular “looks exactly like a (modern) brassiere,” says Hilary Davidson, fashion curator for the London Museum. “These are amazing finds.”

Although the linen garments were unearthed in 2008, they did not make news until now says Beatrix Nutz, the archaeologist responsible for the discovery.

Researching the items and carbon dating them to make sure they were genuine took some time. She delivered a lecture on them last year but the information stayed within academic circles until a recent article in the BBC History Magazine.

“We didn’t believe it ourselves,” she said in a telephone call from the Tyrolean city of Innsbruck. “From what we knew, there was no such thing as bra-like garments in the 15th century.”

The university said the four bras were among more than 2,700 textile fragments — some linen, others linen combined with cotton — that were found intermixed with dirt, wood, straw and pieces of leather.

“Four linen textiles resemble modern-time bras” with distinct cups and one in particular looks like today’s version, it said, with “two broad shoulder straps and a possible back strap, not preserved but indicated by partially torn edges of the cups onto which it was attached.”

And the lingerie was not only functional.

The bras were intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, the statement said, suggesting they were also meant to please a suitor.

While paintings of the era show outerwear, they do not reveal what women wore beneath. Davidson, the fashion curator, described the finds as “kind of a missing link” in the history of women’s underwear.

Women started experimenting with bra-like garments in the late 1800s and the first modern brassiere was patented in the early 19th century. It is thought to have been invented by New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob, who was unhappy with the look of her gown over a stiff corset.

Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. But Nutz said it is men’s underwear — women did not wear anything under their flowing skirts back then.

“Underpants were considered a symbol of male dominance and power,” she said.

Medieval drawings often show a man and a woman fighting for a pair of underpants in a symbolic battle to see who “wears the trousers” in the family.

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012  by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University  Innsbruck Archeological Institute)<br /><br /><br />

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012 by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)

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So sexy war das im Mittelalter: 600 Jahre alte Dessous in österreichischer Burg gefunden

Yahoo! NachrichtenYahoo! Nachrichten – Do., 19. Jul 2012

Der Büstenhalter aus dem Mittelalter (Bild: dapd)Die Geschichte der Unterwäsche muss neu geschrieben werden: Ein Sensationsfund in Österreich offenbart, dass Frauen schon vor etwa 600 Jahren Büstenhalter trugen. Archäologen fanden vier auf das Spätmittelalter datierte Leinen-BHs auf Schloss Lemberg in Tirol, wie die Universität in Innsbruck am Mittwoch mitteilte. Der Fund überrascht sogar Mode-Experten, denn bisher glaubte man, dass es den BH erst gibt, seit er vor ungefähr 100 Jahren das Korsett ablöste. 

Die neu entdeckten historischen Hingucker belegen nun: Offenbar wurde zuerst der BH erfunden, gefolgt vom Korsett, das dann aber wiederum vom BH abgelöst wurde. Besonders ein Exemplar der Mittelalter-Dessous „sieht genauso aus wie ein moderner Büstenhalter“, sagt Hilary Davidson, Mode-Konservatorin des „Museum of London“. „Das sind wirklich erstaunliche Funde“.

Die Leinen-BHs waren schon 2008 entdeckt worden – doch es dauerte sehr lange, die Fundstücke zu untersuchen und mittels Kohlenstoffdatierung auf ihre Echtheit zu überprüfen. Nutz hielt letztes Jahr einen Vortrag über die Büstenhalter, aber die Neuigkeit verließ die akademischen Kreise nicht, bis das BBC History Magazine einen Artikel verfasste.

Die Unterhose war im Mittelalter nur für Männer ein Kleidungsstück (Bild: dapd)„Wir konnten es selbst nicht glauben – wir gingen bisher davon aus, dass es im 15. Jahrhundert keine BH-ähnlichen Kleidungsstücke gab“, sagte die verantwortliche Archäologin Beatrix Nutz von der Universität Innsbruck. Die vier BHs befanden sich unter mehr als 2700 Stoffstücken, zusammen mit Schmutz, Holz, Stroh und Lederteilen, wie die Universität weiter mitteilte.

Vier Leinen-BHs sehen aus wie modische BHs mit ausgeprägten Körbchen. Besonders einer hat es den Forschern angetan: Er wirke wie aus einem modernen Kaufhaus, „mit zwei breiten Trägern und einem möglichen Rückenband, das zwar nicht erhalten, aber durch Ausbeulungen an den Körbchen angedeutet ist, an die es angebracht war.

Die Wäsche war jedoch nicht allein funktionell. Die BHs waren aufwendig mit Borten und anderem Schmuck verziert und sollten denen gefallen, die sie zu Gesicht bekamen. Das Mittelalter war also aus heutiger Sicht weit sexier, als bislang angenommen.

Gemälde aus dem Mittelalter zeigen, was zu jener Zeit in Mode war, sie zeigen aber nicht, was die Leute drunter trugen. Davidson, die Mode-Konservatorin, beschrieb den Fund daher als „fehlendes Glied in der Kette der Geschichte der Unterwäsche“.

Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts begannen Frauen mit BH-ähnlichen Kleidungsstücken zu experimentieren und der erste BH, wie wir ihn heute kennen, wurde Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts patentiert. Man glaubt, dass er von der New Yorker Society-Lady Mary Phelps Jacob erfunden wurde, die mit dem Look ihres Abendkleids über einem steifen Korsett unzufrieden war.

Neben den BHs wurde auf Schloss Lemberg außerdem eine Leinen-Unterhose gefunden, die wie ein moderner Slip wirkt. Nutz meint jedoch, dass es sich dabei um Unterwäsche für Männer handelt – denn Frauen trugen damals nichts drunter. „Unterhosen sah man damals Machtsymbol“, meint sie. Gemälde aus dem Mittelalter zeigen oft Mann und Frau, wie sie sich in einem symbolischen Kampf um eine Unterhose streiten – um auszukämpfen, wer in der Familie „die Hosen anhat“.

Sehen Sie auch: Spektakuläre Studie über die Intelligenz der Geschlechter

One response to “Archaeology of Underwear: Digging below the surface of the late middle ages yields bright linen garments from the end of the Dark Age….. Die Ausgrabungen von Unterhosen?

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