Truth About Trousers

Trousers have been around for a really long time. Why do we wear them? Or pants, as we call them in North America? How did pants/trousers come to replace loincloths, tunics, robes, togas, dresses, and other legless attire? Who invented them?

ancient-clothingWhen simple clothing that hangs loosely from the shoulders is sufficient for comfort, modesty, and a sense of fashion style, why bother with fitted garments designed to cover from the waist down? Before trousers, everyone—men and women—wore relatively shapeless clothes. Clothing was long or short and covered a certain amount of legs and arms depending on the weather of the region and what was considered appropriate for males or females. The easiest way to clothe the human body is to drape cloth around it. Wrap a long fabric rectangle attractively, tie it or secure it with pins or belts to hold it in place, and you’re good to go!

Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin KeyTreasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. Older and more mysterious than ancient Egypt, the strange kingdom of Dodrazeb ignites a Persian warrior’s curiosity when he leads an army to conquer it. Mesmerized by Dodrazeb’s puzzles, the warrior is determined to peel back its layers of secrets as its desperate princess does everything she can to expel the invaders. What have they been hiding from the rest of the world for thousands of years? Get your copy on! Available in both e-book and paperback.

So what’s the big deal about pants? Have you ever gone in search of a great-fitting pair of jeans but had to admit defeat after trying on hundreds of combinations of brands, sizes, washes, fits, and colors? Only to scream in delirious delight when you finally found the perfect pair—the jeans that seemed to be made just for you—that enveloped your lower half with unbelievable comfort and made you feel like you were ready to conquer the world? No one gets that feeling from a toga. From a toga you may feel a little breezy, but that’s about it.

patternAnyone who has ever sewn their own clothing can attest to the fact that getting all the various pieces of fabric stitched together correctly is not easy, and pants can be particularly difficult. Crotch depth, butt size, leg length, waist and thigh circumference—each of these measurements are critical to creating trousers that fit well. And then there is the issue of accessibility for, uhm, relieving oneself. It’s incredibly easy to lift a skirt, or toga, or robe, or tunic to take a quick bathroom break. It’s a different matter entirely when you have to peel off leg coverings and then put them back on without the benefit of zippers, buttons, or stretchy fabric. Trousers are complicated, so why did ancient cultures bother to perfect them?

1-31314fbf56Early adopters of the bifurcated garment worn on the lower body needed something that would be functional when riding a horse. Right after humans domesticated and started riding horses about 4,000 years ago, they decided that comfort for the nether regions was highly desirable. Unsurprisingly, trousers were ideal to prevent chafing when astride a horse. What naturally followed was the rise of cavalry riders in armies of conquest, as mounted soldiers have a lot of advantages over infantry. That’s right—pants changed the course of history because they made it easier for soldiers to fight from horseback.

Ancient Greeks derided Eastern cultures where trousers were worn, believing them to be a ludicrous form of attire. They just couldn’t handle the fact that both men and women wore them, allowing them to participate equally in the same activities such as horseback riding and warfare. Likewise, Romans were great admirers of the draped clothing worn by Greeks and thought of trouser-wearing people as barbarians. Well, the Romans changed their minds when they kept getting trounced by trouser-wearing enemies and the style was eventually popularized across their vast Empire.

ancient_trousers-patternArchaeologists discovered a pair of well-preserved burials in Yanghai in western China that support the idea of trousers being created for comfort while riding horses. The two men, each about 40 years old, were buried about 3000 years ago wearing trousers. Evidence indicates they had likely been warriors as well as herders. One man was buried with a decorated leather bridle, a wooden horse bit, a battle-ax and a leather bracer for arm protection. Objects placed with the other body included a whip, a decorated horse tail, a bow sheath and a bow.

Each pair of trousers was sewn together from three pieces of brown-colored wool cloth, one piece for each leg and an insert for the crotch. No cloth was cut to form these pants. Instead, each of the three sections was shaped on a loom in the final size. These pants included side slits, strings for fastening at the waist and woven designs on the legs. For these two men, trousers were not a mere fashion statement—they were a necessity for daily life. Just like my favorite pair of jeans.


Surprising Facts About Ancient Persia

Map_of_the_Achaemenid_EmpireIn my sword-and-science fantasy novel The Origin Key, a third-century Persian prince discovers an incredibly ancient society with surprisingly modern science and technology. The prince is not amused when he is told that the revered Persian ruler Cyrus the Great created the Persian Empire with help and advice from Dodrazeb. In the story, Dodrazeb is a fictional kingdom that originated virtually every scientific advancement known to 21st century mankind—plus some still unknown to us.

Just as my fictional Prince Rasteem was shocked to learn that his beloved empire might owe its existence to an even more ancient culture, a lot of us today are unaware of the true origins of many ideas and technological achievements. This is due, in part, to the heavy influence of Greek and Roman history on our western culture. The truth is, Greece, Rome, and the rest of the modern world owe a huge debt to the Persians.

Full article: 8 Amazing Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Persians


  1. Cyrus_CylinderThe Cyrus Cylinder dates to 539 BC. Engraved with Akkadian language, it contains the oldest known, and possibly the very first, human rights charter. Inscriptions on the cylindrical tablet include statements of equality for all races, religions, and languages. It also defines opportunities for slaves and displaced people to return to their homelands.
  2. Nashtifan-WindmillsThe earliest known vertical axis windmills were built by Persians. Inspired by the sails of sea-going vessels, windmills were constructed to capture the energy of strong winds on land and used to grind grain or pump water. The ancient Persian windmills consisted of bundled reeds or timber forming a vertical sail. These sails were attached to a central vertical shaft by horizontal struts.
  3. YakhchalAncient Persians developed ingenious refrigeration systems, dating from circa 400 BC. The large underground storage areas were ice pits called Yakhchals and could be as large as 1.8 million cubic ft. The subterranean spaces were covered by stepped dome-like structures made of heat-resistant mud bricks and rising as high as 60 ft. high. The Yakhchals stored ice and food items year-round, providing chilled delicacies for Persian royalty.
  4. Paradise GardenPersians invented “Paradise Gardens.” In Old Iranian, the word for a breathtaking, well-tended, man-made garden is ‘pairi-daeza.’ The word became ‘paradeisos’ in Greek, and then ‘paradis’ in Old French. So the English term ‘paradise’ originated from a Persian idea of a heavenly retreat of exceptional beauty on earth. As today, the countryside of ancient Persia consisted of extremes in both topography and climate, from blizzards in severe winters to blinding dust storms in blazing summers. The terrain includes barren mountains and hostile deserts as well as fertile valleys and thick forests. Admirers of God’s sacred creation, the Persians recognized its wild beauty and determined to help make it blossom amid human habitation.
  5. AncientPersianTrousersTrousers were a Persian innovation. Until the Persians invented trousers and seamed, fitted coats, inhabitants of the Mediterranean region wore woven rectangles of cloth. The tailored garments provided superior protection in cold climates and spread to Asia and Europe. Trousers, valued especially by people who rode horses, spread quickly to China, India, and the Celtic tribes of northern Europe.

The next time you read about how advanced the Greeks and/or Romans were at the height of their civilizations, don’t forget that they benefitted from many cultures that came before. That’s how history really works.

Do you have a favorite period of history that fascinates you? What’s your favorite ancient culture? Leave a comment!