600-year-old linen bras found in Austrian castle

Jul 18, 2012 by GEORGE JAHN
This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows a medieval bra. The bra is commonly thought to be little more than 100 years old as corseted women abandoned rigid fashions and opted for the more natural look. But that timeline is about to be revised with the discovery of four brassieres from the Middle Ages in a debris-filled vault of an Austrian castle. The find, formally announced Wednesday July 18, 2012 by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)

(AP) — A revolutionary discovery is rewriting the history of underwear: Some 600 years ago, women wore bras.

The University of Innsbruck said Wednesday that archeologists found four linen bras dating from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle. Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra had commonly been thought to be only little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset.

Instead, it appears the bra came first, followed by the corset, followed by the reinvented bra.

One specimen in particular "looks exactly like a (modern) brassiere," says Hilary Davidson, fashion curator for the London Museum. "These are amazing finds."

Although the linen garments were unearthed in 2008, they did not make news until now says Beatrix Nutz, the archaeologist responsible for the discovery.

Researching the items and carbon dating them to make sure they were genuine took some time. She delivered a lecture on them last year but the information stayed within academic circles until a recent article in the BBC History Magazine.

This undated picture publicly provided by the Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck, shows medieval underwear. The find, formally announced Wednesday by the University of Innsbruck, is being described by historical fashion experts as revolutionary because it indicates that the bra was already worn around 600 years ago before being abandoned for the stiff stays dictated by the form-hugging clothing that become the mode for centuries. Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. (AP Photo/University Innsbruck Archeological Institute)

"We didn't believe it ourselves," she said in a telephone call from the Tyrolean city of Innsbruck. "From what we knew, there was no such thing as bra-like garments in the 15th century."

The university said the four bras were among more than 2,700 textile fragments — some linen, others linen combined with cotton — that were found intermixed with dirt, wood, straw and pieces of leather.

"Four linen textiles resemble modern-time bras" with distinct cups and one in particular looks like today's version, it said, with "two broad shoulder straps and a possible back strap, not preserved but indicated by partially torn edges of the cups onto which it was attached."

And the lingerie was not only functional.

The bras were intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, the statement said, suggesting they were also meant to please a suitor.

While paintings of the era show outerwear, they do not reveal what women wore beneath. Davidson, the fashion curator, described the finds as "kind of a missing link" in the history of women's underwear.

Women started experimenting with bra-like garments in the late 1800s and the first modern brassiere was patented in the early 19th century. It is thought to have been invented by New York socialite Mary Phelps Jacob, who was unhappy with the look of her gown over a stiff corset.

Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. But Nutz said it is men's underwear — women did not wear anything under their flowing skirts back then.

"Underpants were considered a symbol of male dominance and power," she said.

Medieval drawings often show a man and a woman fighting for a pair of underpants in a symbolic battle to see who "wears the trousers" in the family.

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User comments : 40

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wealthychef
5 / 5 (4) Jul 18, 2012
Totally hot.
Lizard_Minelli
3.3 / 5 (7) Jul 18, 2012
It's amazing how long a piece of linen lasts.
_ucci_oo
5 / 5 (3) Jul 18, 2012
From a scientific aspect mind you,it does prove pleasing to the eye.
xen_uno
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 18, 2012
Thank heavens they aren't cone shaped like in the 50's. That was an era of styling that no amount of nostalgia should ever bring back.

"women did not wear anything under their flowing skirts back then"

Woohoo !
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (24) Jul 18, 2012
Huh. Is there any indication that breasts have evolved in the last 600 years? Or is that a silly question?
PussyCat_Eyes
2.1 / 5 (7) Jul 18, 2012
Thank heavens they aren't cone shaped like in the 50's. That was an era of styling that no amount of nostalgia should ever bring back.

"women did not wear anything under their flowing skirts back then"

Woohoo !
xen_uno

Madonna wears 'cones' in her concerts, or, she used to.

I think you're wrong, xen. The second picture sure looks like panties, IMO. In fact, approx 600 years ago was around the end of the last Crusades. The panties may have been an undergarment that could have been worn with a chastity belt. Thick padding would have been worn under the belt and the panties to hold the padding, which was to protect from chafing from the metal belt. Crusaders left their wives for a long time and expected the wife to be chaste for all that time. So they would have a chastity belt made to ensure the wife was being faithful.
Haven't seen anything to indicate a chastity belt for the husband, though.
xen_uno
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 19, 2012
per article - "Also found at Lemberg Castle in Tyrol was a linen undergarment that looks very much like a pair of panties. But Nutz said it is **men's underwear** women did not wear anything under their flowing skirts back then.". Someone with the last name of Nutz should know a thing or two about underwear.

Madonna has a penchant for looking ridiculous sometimes plus her cones were part of a stage act ... hardly mainstream. I liked her naked with armpit hair and her music was better around then too.
xen_uno
3 / 5 (6) Jul 19, 2012
Otto ... breasts are getting larger thru time apparently due to nutrition. Now overeating can certainly make them grow but apparently being thin and big-breasted is becoming more common.

http://www.guardi...g-bigger

Can't call it evolution per se but I would call it pleasing.
Cristina R_
1 / 5 (4) Jul 19, 2012
If there was a "fight for power", then the regime was not so much a male dictatorship as a man & woman democracy. If they battled over the trousers, then the trousers must have been a symbol of dominance, male and female. The last two paragraphs are rather projections of a modern feminist mind.
PussyCat_Eyes
2.1 / 5 (7) Jul 19, 2012
Seems to me that there is a big difference in panties and trousers. Women even back then would've had to wear something to catch menstrual blood each month or their dresses would've been a mess. The unfertilized ovum must be expelled, Therefore, I would tend to believe that women in the Middle Ages did not go around without an undergarment such as panties. The strings in the picture would have kept the panties from falling whether on a man or a woman.
Since it was found in a castle, it might have been the property of the "lady of the manor", where only rich and royals had access to such undergarments, and serf women had to go without bras and panties.
MissAnthropologist
5 / 5 (2) Jul 19, 2012
Wait a minute, "The bras were intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, the statement said, suggesting they were also meant to please a suitor?" Women wear pretty underthings because we like them. Although it's an assumption, that was probably just as true of Medieval European women as it is for modern Western women.

Otherwise, this is really really interesting!
antialias_physorg
2 / 5 (4) Jul 19, 2012
Women even back then would've had to wear something to catch menstrual blood each month or their dresses would've been a mess.

Women back then lived shorter lives and were pregnant a lot of the time. Menstruation is, in evolutionary trems, a waste. It is only today with our 'artificially enhanced' lifetimes that this is such a big part of everyday life.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (20) Jul 19, 2012
Otto ... breasts are getting larger thru time apparently due to nutrition. Now overeating can certainly make them grow but apparently being thin and big-breasted is becoming more common.

http://www.guardi...g-bigger

Can't call it evolution per se but I would call it pleasing.
No as deathclock would say, this is the result of domestication, ie unnatural selection for favorable traits. Overlarge boobs would not be sustainable in the wild.
Seems to me that there is a big difference in panties and trousers.
Jeez it's too bad we don't have a real nurse here to offer some meaningful insight. I suppose serfs just had to live with crusty thighs then yes?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (23) Jul 19, 2012
Rather than leave the thread with an opinion some dimwit fake nurse made up, I suppose a genuine professional must step in:
http://wiki.answe...al_times

-Serfs used tampons.
Deathclock
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 19, 2012
Otto ... breasts are getting larger thru time .. apparently being thin and big-breasted is becoming more common.

Can't call it evolution per se but I would call it pleasing.


Sounds like evolution via sexual selection to me...
Deathclock
2.7 / 5 (9) Jul 19, 2012
No as deathclock would say, this is the result of domestication, ie unnatural selection for favorable traits. Overlarge boobs would not be sustainable in the wild.


There is absolutely nothing unnatural about sexual selection creating traits that have no practical use, ever heard of peacocks?

Peacocks prove you wrong, and if you've ever studied evolutionary theory you would understand this. In fact if you (or anyone else reading this) does not understand why I am talking about peacocks then you lack the education on the topic of evolution to participate in a discussion regarding it.
Deathclock
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 19, 2012
BTW Otto, are we done in the other thread where you were trying to tell me that dogs did not evolve from wolves because evolution cannot occur via artificial selection?

http://phys.org/n...ern.html
xen_uno
3 / 5 (6) Jul 19, 2012
Otto - "No as deathclock would say, this is the result of domestication, ie unnatural selection for favorable traits. Overlarge boobs would not be sustainable in the wild"

LOL ... but he would be wrong. According to a Family Guy episode I saw recently, Jesus was between 4 and 5 ft tall and that height appears to be the average of people worldwide at the time. 2000 years is too short a period for any serious genetic change to occur IMO. Healthier disease free living and larger gene pool is what has given us these bigger boobs, bigger johnsons (guessing), and taller, heavier bodies. The trend will probably continue until some physiological limit is reached.
xen_uno
2.7 / 5 (7) Jul 19, 2012
Death - "Sounds like evolution via sexual selection to me..."

You mite have a point .. guess it depends on birthrates and just how much the big boobed trait is carried on thru successive generations. Just being thin is a hard thing to hold onto long term in today's society, let alone after having a couple kids. That would have an effect on sexual selection.
Deathclock
2.5 / 5 (8) Jul 19, 2012
I'm not an expert on this particular topic (evolution of boobs...) but if it is NOT the result of sexual selection then my second bet would be things like beef hormones and other shit in our food that affects hormonal balance during puberty...

There is no reason it can't be sexual selection however, which would be evolution via natural selection. Natural selection is a blanket term that includes several selection mechanisms, sexual selection is one of them, perfectly illustrated by the peacock and many other animals.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.2 / 5 (20) Jul 20, 2012
BTW Otto, are we done in the other thread where you were trying to tell me that dogs did not evolve from wolves because evolution cannot occur via artificial selection?
Yeah. I trashed you.
There is absolutely nothing unnatural about sexual selection creating traits that have no practical use, ever heard of peacocks?
Successful mating is the most practical thing an organism can hope to accomplish. What you might consider superfluous is essential to the peacock.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 20, 2012
I have been a Registered Nurse for the last 11 years. Some of my patients through those years were suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and also Dunning-Kruger Effect, among many other disorders. I know that theghostofotto1923 is suffering from DID, but until now I wasn't also sure that he has the symptoms of DKE. Blotto, for several months now, has been calling me a man's name (Ritchie) even though my name is Debra Ann (it's in my profile) and, despite my protestations that I am NOT this Ritchie person, Blotto persists in calling me Ritchie, etc. These are also symptoms of Dunning-Kruger Effect when he cannot accept the fact that I am NOT the Ritchie he is after, and I AM a Registered Nurse since 2001.
Blotto has obviously transferred someone else's personality over to me and his DKE disorder will not allow him to recognize the fact that he has made a grave error which he continues in every thread in which he finds my comments.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 20, 2012
Theghostofotto1923 is a very mentally ill person and should not be allowed to comment on Phys.org as he disrupts legitimate discussions in the threads and displays aggressive and cruel behavior while insisting that he is always right about ALL topics, while denigrating other commenters.
I understand that many mental institutions allow their patients the use of computers as a possible therapeutic device to help the patient attain the sense of reality which they have lost, for whatever reason.
But, I have read the reactions from many commenters, and I fear that they are coming to a point of incredible aggravation over Blotto's treatment of them, and they have no recourse of escaping from his diatribes and have a normal, pleasant discussion of the topic with like-minded commenters. Some will simply stop posting, which is what Blotto wants, and others will attempt to defend their opinions, but to no avail because Blotto cannot see when he is wrong, due to his mental disorders.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 20, 2012
From PsychologyToday.com
"The skills needed to produce logically sound arguments, for instance, are the same skills that are necessary to recognize when a logically sound argument has been made. Thus, if people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else's, are right or wrong. They cannot recognize their responses as mistaken, or other people's responses as superior to their own."
http://www.psycho...r-effect
PussyCat_Eyes
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 20, 2012
As in the previous experiments, students first participated in a logic test and then rated their perceived performance. (Again, poor performers grossly overestimated their performance on the test, and high performers erred towards the side of modesty.) This time, in a second phase of the experiment, half of the participants were now given a mini-lecture on how to solve the type of logic questions they had just seen on their test. This was an attempt to provide them with systematic tools for distinguishing accurate from inaccurate answers.
"When given their original test to look over, the participants who received the lecture, and particularly those who were poor performers, provided much more accurate self-ratings than they had originally. They judged their performance quite harshly- and even lowered their confidence in their own general logical reasoning ability, even though, if anything, the mini-lecture had strengthened that ability, not weakened it."
PussyCat_Eyes
1.9 / 5 (9) Jul 21, 2012
In the second phase of the student experiment, the students who listened to the lecture realized their error. Therefore, the students had the DKE temporarily. But in the case of Blotto's disorder, he cannot absorb nor comprehend that he has made an error in his arguments. Thus, Blotto cannot recognize the fact that he is in error regarding me and who I am. He and antialias have come to the wrong conclusion about me, but neither one wants to admit that they have made that error. And so, Blotto continues to call me "Ritchie" instead of my own name, simply because he believes himself to be right, even though he is very wrong.
There is nothing that can be done about it, because Blotto cannot grasp the fact that he makes errors. He finds his information from Wikipedia and comes back to his argument armed with the Wiki data, while telling his adversaries that they are wrong even when they are right. Dunning-Kruger Effect coupled with Dissociative Identity Disorder is TheghostofOtto1923.
wwqq
3 / 5 (2) Jul 21, 2012
I'm not an expert on this particular topic (evolution of boobs...) but if it is NOT the result of sexual selection then my second bet would be things like beef hormones and other shit in our food that affects hormonal balance during puberty...


There are ALWAYS growth hormones in meat, whether you add more or not. This is inherent in the fact that it is flesh from a living, growing animal.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (23) Jul 21, 2012
Some of my patients through those years were suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and also Dunning-Kruger Effect, among many other disorders
As any competent nurse would know, DK is not a disorder, and it is certainly not something that people get committed to mental institutions for.

Not knowing the difference between a disorder and an effect is a pretty major mistake for a supposed nurse who works in a mental institution to make. It means you lack even a basic understanding of psychological terms.

As you have failed to understand what DK is and is not, even after you looked it up, and obviously 'lack the meta-cognitive capacity to properly evaluate [your] own performance', you are NO NURSE.

Just some ignorant flooding lying multi-sockpuppet named jeannie.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2012
As I've said earlier, "Some of my patients through those years were suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and also Dunning-Kruger Effect, among many other disorders."
There were other disorders that they suffered, not just DID.
Dunning-Kruger Effect is usually temporary, as in the example. But it becomes a disorder in the long term when the patient cannot be convinced otherwise by either himself, or someone else such as a doctor. Look it up.

I have no idea who this Jeannie is. Where did you get that name from?
PussyCat_Eyes
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2012
Since Blotto prefers me rather than discussion of the topic....
One of Blotto's mental problems is that he confuses his over-inflated personal self-assessment with the actions of others who are expressing scientific opinion of the topic in any thread. The action of expressing a scientific opinion in a forum is most often dependent upon the prior knowledge of the topic beforehand and, confirming that knowledge if and when called upon to provide any existing evidence of it.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect is most pronounced when the individual suffering from it demonstrates the need to "look it up" first, WITHOUT PRIOR KNOWLEDGE of the topic and pretends to have known all along about the topic, but has only found out in a hurried search to proclaim himself some kind of authority on the topic, even if he is wrong. He will never admit to being wrong on any topic of discussion, which is where his over-inflated self-assessment warrants a higher degree of over-estimating of his own performance.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2012
Theghostofotto1923 doesn't seem to have the mental tools of assessing logically his own performance without over-inflating it. So he makes up for it by assessing and under-evaluating the performances of others which, to his mind, are not as good as his, and therefore, are subject to his ad hominem attacks. His Dunning-Kruger Effect is becoming, or has already become, a perpetual narcissism. He displays no sense of humility when he is in error, but instead he continues to browbeat and denigrate the innocent people. This need to browbeat and denigrate also shows up in his seeming desire for war and failure and the killing of the innocents in certain types of discussions.
PussyCat_Eyes
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2012
Most everyone is good at something. It's rare for an individual to not have a skill at something or the ability to learn the skill. Any individual must be good at that something in order to self-evaluate whether or not he is good at it. If he doesn't have the skills, talent or whatever it takes to be good at that something, then he should acquire those skills BEFORE attempting to perform it. The worst part is if he performs it and knows virtually nothing about it, and yet, pretends to know everything WITHOUT PRIOR KNOWLEDGE.
Dunning-Kruger Effect describes theghostofotto1923 and his sock puppets. One has only to read his many profiles and his posts to know that he suffers from Dunning-Kruger Effect. He cannot attribute DKE to himself due to his self-inflated assessment and personal evaluation, lack of humility and desire to denigrate everyone else.
Egleton
2 / 5 (4) Jul 22, 2012
I know panties when I see them.
Alcedine
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2012
I know panties when I see them.

If you mean that the fabric is especially worn in a place whose heavy scrubbing would be more frequent for a female wearer (for reasons that have been discussed), then yes. I don't see how you propose to link today's norms to periods so long gone, though. Even a cursory look at kings' portraits and other art tells you that the previous generations have disagreed with us on at least the topics of tights and high heels.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (18) Jul 22, 2012
P/r/r/p the lying FLOODING multi-sockpuppet dimwit says
Most everyone is good at something. It's rare for an individual to not have a skill at something or the ability to learn the skill. Any individual must be good at that something in order to self-evaluate whether or not he is good at it.
???

Pussys real talents seem to lie in sending smutty PMs:

"So what is the REAL reason why you keep coming after me? Is it that you would like to make love to me. If I gave you my picture, you would probably cum all over yourself.

Here you go, sweetie pie....animal husbandry in the oceans..."
rwinners
1 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2012
Top half of a bikini???
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.6 / 5 (17) Jul 23, 2012
Heres another pathological liar

"David Kwiatkowski, the Canton native and former medical technician charged with spreading his hepatitis C to dozens of unsuspecting patients by stealing their drugs to get high, was a pathological liar who knew he had hepatitis C, according to a damning FBI report.

Documents portray Kwiatkowski as living in a fantasy world where he told friends he played baseball at the University of Michigan, had a fiance who tragically died, and was battling cancer. All those were lies, the FBI said."

-Pathological liars can be very dangerous.
PussyCat_Eyes
1 / 5 (4) Jul 23, 2012
@rw
I wear a string bikini at a private beach and occasionally take off the top to get a tan, but I never get tanned. I turn red only.
Maybe it wasn't meant to be?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (18) Jul 24, 2012
@rw
I wear a string bikini at a private beach and occasionally take off the top to get a tan, but I never get tanned. I turn red only.
Maybe it wasn't meant to be?
Maybe its because youre the kind of person who likes to post gay porn links on a site visited by kids?
http://phys.org/n...rth.html
sherky
1 / 5 (3) Jul 26, 2012
like Arthur replied I am shocked that a student able to earn $9035 in four weeks on the internet. have you seen this web link NuttyRich.com

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