As human beings, clothes play an important role in our daily lives. But was it always this way? When were clothes invented, and why?
The answers you’ll hear to these questions depend entirely on a person’s worldview. For instance, evolutionists believe that humans have slowly evolved over the last 300,000 years. Somewhere along the way, they reason, humans developed the intelligence to create clothing from animal skins to keep themselves warm.
A new study indicates humans were making clothes very early on. Scientists found around 12,000 bone fragments in a cave in Morocco, and around 60 of those fragments had been shaped into tools to scrape leather in order to process it. They also found evidence that humans were skinning carnivores (foxes, jackals, and wildcats) for their fur, not for meat.
So what’s the big deal about this discovery? And how do we interpret the findings from a biblical perspective?
How Old Are Clothes?
According to the study’s researchers, the tools found in the Moroccan cave are about 120,000 years old and are part of an older tradition of clothing being made in Africa 170,000 years ago.
Of course, at Answers in Genesis, we disagree with this timeline since the earth is only 6,000 or so years old, according to the Bible. But besides the evolution-based interpretations, this new study aligns with what the Bible tells us about human history.
The people living in this Moroccan cave were likely a group of Noah’s descendants who migrated into Africa after the Flood (c. 2,348 B.C.) and the Tower of Babel (c. 2242 B.C). In fact, a lot of the caves in that region were likely made during the Flood.
“These are people after the Flood, after the events of the Tower of Babel as they’re spreading around to different parts of the world,” says Bodie Hodge. “In fact, one of the things we know about Morocco and that particular area is that a lot of the descendants of Noah’s grandson Put settled in that particular area. So it’s possible that these were Putites.”
Who Made the First Clothes?
Did you know the Bible actually tells us when the first clothing was created? It’s right in Genesis 3!
You see, when God created Adam and Eve—the first humans—they didn’t wear clothes. That might sound strange to us, but because they didn’t sin, they didn’t feel any shame. There was no lust, no inappropriate thoughts, no evil behavior. They didn’t even realize they were naked.
But that all changed when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned.
“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7, ESV).
Hodge points out that fig leaves do not provide comfortable clothing. In fact, they make you itch! “So you know they were in a hurry,” he says.
After God confronted Adam and Eve for their sin and cast them out of the Garden of Eden, He made new clothes for them.
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21, ESV, emphasis added).
Where did the skin for the clothes come from? It came from the first animal sacrifice. And why was that first animal sacrifice made? Because it was the only way to temporarily cover Adam and Eve’s sin.
Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, you see God’s people continuing to make sacrifices for their sin. But no animal sacrifice can wash away sin completely and forever. We needed a human—a descendant of Adam—to die in our place and receive our punishment.
Thankfully, that descendant was Jesus! He was completely human, making Him a suitable substitute, as well as completely God, making Him totally sinless—a sacrifice without blemish.
So you see, the first clothing isn’t just a fascinating scientific discovery. It tells the story of our need for Jesus. And it sets the stage for the glorious gospel!
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