Long before Egyptians, Peruvians made blue-hued cotton 6,000 years ago
Lauren A. Badams, J. Splitstoser
Ancient South Americans made blue fabrics to dye for. A piece of approximately 6,000-year-old woven cotton material from Peru gets its blue hue from indigo dye, making it the oldest known example of the colorfast dye’s use anywhere, researchers find.
Until now, the earliest indigo-dyed fabrics dated to around 4,400 years ago in Egypt and about 3,000 years ago in what’s now western China, say archaeologist Jeffrey Splitstoser of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his colleagues. Chemical analyses of fabric unearthed at Huaca Prieta, an ancient site on Peru’s northern coast, unveiled the presence of indigo dye roughly 1,600 years before this fabric coloring showed up in Egypt, Splitstoser’s team reports online September 14 in Science Advances.