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Farming for food or…fibre? - Prof Ian Gilligan

October 13, 2007 (Australia)

Farming originated not for food but for clothing, claims Ian Gilligan, Postgraduate Researcher from the Australian National University. He explains that Aboriginal men sustained themselves through hunting and gathering and almost never worried about their next meal.

However, same was not the case with clothing. Ian Gilligan published a detailed case in Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association.

Gilligan tells Fibre2fashion, “I think clothing has been a much more important factor in the development of modern human society than has been appreciated - the likely role of textile fibres in the emergence of farming is just one example.”

Talking about evidence found during research, he says “In the early farming centres like the Near East, China, and Peru we find not only evidence for the early cultivation of fibre plants like flax (for linen), hemp and cotton and the domestication of wool-bearing animals like sheep, goats and llamas, we also find archaeological signs like the spindle whorls made from stone or pottery that were used for spinning the natural fibres into yarn to weave textile cloth.”

Professor informs, “My thesis on ‘Ice Age Climates and Clothing’ looks at why some groups of humans first adopted tailored, fitted clothes for reasons of warmth during the colder stages of the last Ice Age. Specialized stone tools like blades became common in colder areas and these were useful for cutting hides into the rectangular shapes needed to make fitted garments. During this era, the best materials were the hides and furs from the animals like reindeer, wild cattle, horses and foxes that people hunted”

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