Ancient Mesopotamia-Fashion

By Laura and Denby

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Intro


Mesopotamia is located at the far west side of Asia. It is between two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates. For this reason, Mesopotamia got its name which means "The land between the rivers".
Mesopotamia Map
Mesopotamia Map
It is located mainly where Iraq is now and in part of Syria. The Mesopotamian people made their houses out of mud, tools were made from rock and they used natural materials in what they did and made. Mesopotamia originally was flooded much of the time so the people tried to develop a system to control the water. The Mesopotamians were farmers and they grew food like Barley and fruit. Mesopotamia had some rain and the temperature was often very hot- mostly over 110 degrees. Because of the hot weather, Mesopotamians developed their clothing to suit their climate. So maybe you're thinking, "What is fashion?" Fashion means a lot of things: clothes, make-up, hair, jewellery and accessories.

Please View this video to learn more about Mesopotamia!




Clothing


In Mesopotamia, natural resources like flax and sheep's wool were used. Flax was a substitute for linen. In the summer, cloth was made thinner whereas in the winter, the cloth was more coarse and thick. Linen was soft and it
Notice the hair, beard and tunic
Notice the hair, beard and tunic
lasted for a long time. The more used and washed the cloth the softer and stronger it became. These materials could be dyed and wouldn't fade.

Flax was harvested and then would break down naturally. The long fibres in the stem were separated and used to make linen. Flax can be identified as a plant with blue flowers.

Clothing for men and women were simple yet durable. Sumerian men in the summer were bare chested and wore a skirt like garment tied to the side. Women would wear a long gown and their right arm and shoulder would be left uncovered. Assyrians would wear a short-sleeved tunic underneath their robe.

In the winter, Sumerian men would wear sheepskins with the wool side out. They would be worn with a belt to keep them in place. Women would use sheep skin as well. They would drape the sheepskin around them like a dress or a robe. Women would pin theirs on the left shoulder. At the start of the Old Akkadian period men would wear wool cloth that was worn the same way as women. Men would pin theirs on the right shoulder instead.

The rich and the royalty would often wear more expensive clothing even though they wore the same styles as the poor. Theirs would be made of a more luxurious material. Wealthy women and princesses would wear coloured and bright clothing. Assyrian royalty would have their clothing woven with complicated designs.

Gods wore different items than the wealthy or royalty. God Marduk, imagined by Mesopotamians, wore symbols of power. Also, Assyrian soldiers wore metal suits and iron weapons.




Jewellery

-click here to view a page about Greek Fashion

Both men and women prized jewellery and would wear earrings and necklaces. The rich would wear gold and silver bracelets and earrings. For a celebration, even more jewellery was worn. Necklaces were set with precious stones like lapis lazuli, topaz, and carnelian that were traded and found in the Indus Valley. Gold plants and animals on a background of lapis beads was a sign of wealth.



Other stones that were used include turquoise and agate. Agate is a stone of many different shapes and sizes. It can be many different colours and have different designs, pattern and textures.

Agate Stone
Agate Stone



Headdresses were also very popular. A Queen would wear a headdress that would have ringlets of gold with animals external image h2_33.35.3.jpgand leaves. Ladies of the court would wear beech leaf headdresses. An average women would also wear a headdress for a celebration or festival.

To the left is an example of a Mesopotamian Headdress. It was found in a tomb in Ur where all of the wealthy Kings and Queens had been buried. It was found on the head of one of the female "attendants" in the King's grave. The attendants also were wearing gold hair ties and necklaces of lapis lazuli and gold. This headdress has lapis lazuli and carnelian in-between the gold leaves.

Lapis lazuli was the most prized stone. It was even set in headdresses, clothing, and was used as eyes in statues. Lapis lazuli comes from the Latin word lapis meaning stone and the Arab word azul meaning blue. The Mesopotamians were big fans of the colour blue.
Carnelian stones
Carnelian stones


Carnelian is a reddish-brown stone. It also means horn in Latin. The Mesopotamians used carnelian stones to make jewellery.
Colorless topaz, Brazil
Colorless topaz, Brazil

Topaz was also used for jewellery. The stone is mostly at straw-yellow and a wine coloured, but can also be white, grey, green, blue, pink or reddish-yellow.
Queen Puabi's headdress
Queen Puabi's headdress



This is a statue of Queen Puabi in her head dress and necklace. The head dress is made out of leaves and ribbons of gold and beads made out of lapis lazuli and carnelian beads. Her necklace was made of strings of beads which were made out of precious beads and not so precious stones. Also, she wore two rings on each hand.


Queen Paubi's Cape
Queen Paubi's Cape


Queen Puabi also wore a cape made up of thousands of tiny lapis lazuli beads, gold, carnelian and other stones. There were gold pendants of plants and animals in this piece of jewellery.








Hair and Make-up


Hair and make-up was very important to the Mesopotamians. Hair styles varied from the different era's in Mesopotamian history. In the Early Dynastic Period, men were cleanly shaven. Women had long hair which would often then be up and was done in beautiful fancy styles. In the Old Akkadian Period, men would be clean shaven or would have long wavy hair. Women would have creative hairstyles with hair nets of metal or bone or would have a tight bun. In around 1000 B.C., the fashion was for women and men to have tight, long curls. Also, Assyrian Kings had long curls, beards and mustaches. The men of Sumeria sometimes shaved their heads and beards.



Even though it was a long time ago, women still would wear makeup. For a form of mascara and eyeliner they would wear antimony and for lipstick they would wear red henna. Another form of eyeliner was to use led. Today, henna is used in the Indian culture for beautiful tattoos that wash off in about a week. So you can draw from this information that unlike today where lipstick washes off the red henna would last for quite a long time.


Conclusion

Even though Mesopotamia existed over thousands of years ago, they still cared about fashion just like us. They had trends and they took pride in what they looked like, wore and they cared for their body. I guess that they were still human then and they enjoyed dressing up and looking nice. Also, the Mesopotamians used their resources wisely towards their fashion, especially for make-up. They used what they had and their fashions suited their climate. They would wear warmer clothing in the Winter and cooler in the Summer. The Mesopotamians were ahead of their time. They knew what looked good and what felt comfortable. Men and woman also got creative with their hair. The Mesopotamians were careful with what they used and were environmentally friendly.



Watch This Video to Find out What Fashion is!!



References



Broida, Marian. Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbor and Activity Guide. Chicago Review Press Inc., Chicago, 1999.

Brown, Dale M.( Editor).Mesopotamia: The Mighty Kings. Time-Life Books, Alexandra, 1995.

Neering, Rosemary and Grant, Peter.Other Places, Other Times, Gage Educational Publishing Company, Toronto, 1986.

Reece, Katherine "The Mesopotamians conquerors of the Middle East", Rourke
Malam, John. "Ancient Mesopotamia". Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2004.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agate - Agate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnelian -Part of jewellery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz -Part of jewellery

http://mcclungmuseum.utk.edu/specex/ur/ur.htm -Part of jewellery

http://www.carlos.emory.edu/ODYSSEY/NEAREAST/daily.html -Intro on Ancient Mesopotamia


http://www.gemstone.org/gem-by-gem/english/agate.html - Agate

http://www.shrewsbury-ma.gov/schools/Central/Curriculum/ELEMENTARY/SOCIALSTUDIES/Mesopotamia/ancient_mesopotamia.htm#clothing -"Ancient Mesopotamia-Clothing"

http://www.taxson.net/iraq/MAP_MESOPOTAMIA.jpg - Mesopotamia Map

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGIxb0eCbfU -fashion video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wksHEDgBRnM -Ancient Mesopotamia video