Tips and Advice

History of the Belt - Prehistory

Posted by Simon Harrison on Thursday, August 7, 2014 Under: History

3350BC – 3100BC – The Ice Man

This amazing fella was discovered on a mountain in the Otztal Alps, South Tyrol, Italy on 19th September, 1991 by two hikers. He was partially encased in glacier ice and so well preserved that originally he was thought to be an unfortunate mountain hiker that had met his end. After recovery of the body radiocarbon dating revealed that the iceman lived between 3350 and 3100 BC, making him 5000 years old.

Among the many items of well preserved clothing found was a belt

This belt not only held his loin cloth in place and kept his leggings up. It also held a belt pouch which contained many important tools.

The Iceman’s belt was made from a 4- to 5 cm-wide strip of calf’s leather. The fragments found show that the belt was originally almost two metres long and could therefore be wound twice around the hips and knotted.”

The pouch was a piece of sewn-on leather, the opening of which could be closed with a fine leather thong. The Iceman used his belt pouch to store various flint tools: a scraper, a drill and a flint flake. A 7.1 cm bone awl was also found. It could be used for various jobs from sewing to tattooing, or simply as a toothpick.

The belt pouch was filled for the most part with a black mass, later identified as tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius). The fungus, part of a prehistoric lighter, contains traces of iron pyrite. When struck against flint, iron pyrite nodules produce a shower of sparks. When the sparks land on a bed of fluffy tinder fungus, the fungus begins to glow and can be used to kindle a fire.

I suppose that this belt could be described as a modern day utility belt. Design for a specific purpose – not just to hold your trousers up – but to hold the pouch as well other tools and equipment that would no doubt be held there. There are signs of stitching on the pouch and an awl amongst the tools. The same type of tools that I would use nowadays to make a similar belt!

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In : History 

Tags: leather "leather belts" "history of the belt" "stone age" "oetzi the iceman" 
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Simon Harrison Cordwainer at Oakside Saddlery Handmade, bespoke leather Made in England. Leather Collars and Leads for your Dog, Handmade, made to Measure Leather Belts, Leather camera straps, Leather briefcases and messenger bags, watch straps, And Leather rifle slings for Field Sports. All made in the Traditional Hand-stitched way


Simon Harrison

Oakside Saddlery

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United Kingdom


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