Oldest-Known Indigo Textile Found in Peru

Recently, a 6200-year-old indigo-dyed textile was found near Huaca, Peru. This makes it one of the oldest-known cotton textiles archaeologists have yet found and the oldest-known textile to be decorated with ancient indigo. It is 1800 years older than the next-oldest indigo-dyed textile.

This artifact was discovered during a 2009 excavation in a desert area, where many well-preserved artifacts were found. Archaeologists believe the site was most likely a temple where a variety of offerings, including textiles, were placed.

There is a common misconception that sophisticated textile technologies originated in Europe. This find, however, is proof that the Andean people, and others in the New World, were developing these technologies, including the ability to spin cotton and dye with indigo, simultaneously. European techniques, in actuality, replaced the equally sophisticated New World technologies during the conquest, and Europeans quickly co-opted techniques they didn’t have and adapted them to their own design sensibilities.

The 6200-year-old textile is now proudly housed in the Cao Museum in Peru. Someday I hope to see it in person! Learn more about the textile here.

P.S. Want to learn how to use natural indigo dye yourself and join this ancient tradition? Check out Elizabeth’s McTear’s video Dyeing with Indigo, available on DVD and for instant download.

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