Questions for ‘The earliest known pants are surprisingly modern — and comfy’ 

photo of 3,000-year-old pants taken from above

These are the oldest pants ever found. Their 3,000-year-old weave and patterns appear to reflect influences from cultures across Asia, researchers say.

M. Wagner et al/Archaeological Research in Asia 2022

To accompany The earliest known pants are surprisingly modern — and comfy’


Before Reading:

  1. What piece of clothing is your favorite to wear? What features of it appeals to you? In what ways does it fit your lifestyle? How comfortable is it?
  2. Now count how many pieces of fabric went into that piece of clothing (don’t forget pockets, collars or linings). How complicated do you think it was to make this item? How long do you think people have been wearing items of clothing similar to this?

During Reading:

  1. Where were the oldest known pair of pants discovered and how long ago were they made?
  2. What is known about who wore the pants? According to the story, what was the man’s likely profession?
  3. How many weaving techniques went into making the fabric in these pants? What is twill?
  4. Where was the oldest twill fabric found and how old was it?
  5. Why does Karina Grömer describe Turfan Man’s pants as “the Rolls-Royce of trousers”?
  6. Based on what you read, what are at least three things about the pants’ design that would have contributed to their comfort and durability?
  7. What decorative aspects of the pants’ design suggest its weavers had come in contact with people from far to the west of what is now China?
  8. What is the Silk Road?

After Reading:

  1. Why do you think the researchers felt compelled to recreate Turfan Man’s pants? What more do you think they learned by doing this, beyond what they’d have known from just eyeballing the trousers?
  2. The researchers seemed very interested in where various of the designs they saw in the pants had shown up before. What might this tell them about these and other ancient peoples?