History of Leather - Stone Age (Prehistory to 3000 BC)

History of Leather - Stone Age (Prehistory to 3000 BC)

Throughout history, leather has been used to make everything from garments to tools. Early leather-making and leather-crafting methods are different from what we see today. People from all over the world have a deep connection to leather and leather crafts history.

Around 400,000 years ago, Hoxne, England, was the first place to produce leather. There is a long history of its development, from the Stone Age to the present times. Leather has been helpful to people worldwide for thousands of years, regardless of culture or period. Let's look at the use of leather in the Stone Age.


The leather of the Stone Age

Leather has been used mainly as a protective material for thousands of years. Humans have used as many animal parts as possible to survive and create things that make life simpler and more comfortable. It was simpler to stroll and explore with leather shoes.

Leather craftsman

Leather at that time had a lot of utility factors but in the raw form. The skin of larger animals was used to make clothes. It provided considerable warmth in different colder areas. Hides were utilized as a shade source and an insulator to keep cool in hot weather. Leatherworks at that time were primarily focused on utility.

Leather's usage expanded as human civilizations grew and developed. Leather boots, armor, tents, harnesses, and jewelry would all be made from it. Leather was then considered a symbol of prestige in several civilizations. With time, leathercraft started evolving into a decorative and functional art form.


Leathercraft in Stone Age

There have been many long periods in modern history, but the Stone Age is one of the longest. Around 400,000 years ago, experts discovered traces of leatherworking, which was the beginning of leathercraft.

Stone Age wall carvings

The earliest known stone tools date to roughly 3.3 million years ago, making them the oldest tools ever discovered. They seemed like cut stone flakes. These stone flakes might have been used to clean animal skins before tanning them or skin the hides and scrape them clean. Experts detected traces of leather-specific tools around 400,000 years ago.


A History of Early Leather tools

Hoxne in England is a modern-day location where stone scraping tools were discovered. Researchers deduced from the tiny wear patterns on the scrapers that they were used only for scraping hides. Due to this scarring, they would have been prepared for tanning, preservation, and usage.

Early leather tools

Humans began to see bone awls in South Africa around 82,000 BC. The awls, larger than sewing needles, must have been used to penetrate the leather. In order to create more oversized clothing and shelter covers, the leather skins and the furs could be combined.

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The first Leather Products

The first leather product was discovered in Siberia about 33,500 BC. You will be surprised to note that the first sewing needles had eyes for a thread or other substance that functioned similarly. Leathercraft was able to provide more in terms of functionality. This marks the inception of awls for making holes and needles for passing thread through them. Items were often molded to fit users' needs and later mended and repurposed for new purposes. So, recycling was not a foreign element then! Waterproofing properties were added to leather by rubbing in fats.

Oldest leather shoe

Sumerian excavations have yielded some of the earliest evidence of leather tanning activities, dating to roughly 5,000 BC (modern-day Iraq). Armenian archaeologists have found the world's oldest leather shoe (with leather laces!) dating back to 3,500 BC. Chariot harnesses and couplings in ancient Egypt were made of leather, approximately 3,100 BC. Hence, the stone age marked the inception of the use of leather. 

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