When did towels come along?

I think about odd things in my spare time, and something that has been in the back of my head now for years is when did people start using towels? I mean… I know that people didn’t always bathe as frequenly as we do now… and that it was common for people to only own one set of clothes, for example… so having large pieces of absorbent material around for the luxury of drying off seems like it couldn’t have been that common…

And before they had towels… what did they do? drip dry? run around? get dressed wet? It isn’t that I can’t imagine these possibilities, it is just that I’m curious as to which is accurate. :slight_smile:

My text on ancient Rome makes reference to them being in common use in the 2nd century B.C.

They wouldn’t have been fluffy, I guess. Or especially absorbent, either. They may have been wool based though.

I guess.

Heck, I dunno…


“Well, roll me in eggs and flour and bake me for forty minutes!”

The Legend Of PigeonMan

I imagine man had something to wrap babies in pretty early, even if just some animal skin. Could be used as a towel.

When do you suppose they first started cutting hair?Flint knives?

Well Opal, all I could find was this dictionary entry. But then you weren’t asking about when people used clothes first to dry themselves were ya???:
1tow•el "tau(-e)l\ noun [ME towaille, fr. OF toaille, of Gmc origin; akin to OHG dwahila towel; akin to OHG dwahan to wash] (13c)
: an absorbent cloth or paper for wiping or drying

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

I saw this cool thing in a catalog a few years ago. It was a curved piece of plastic that looked like a long, thin boomerang. I believe they were used by a tribe of American Indians who made them out of rib bones. Basically, you used it as a kind of squiggy to “brush” all the water off your body. They said it worked really well. I never bought one so I can’t vouch for its effectivness. But it is a neat idea.

Dunno about ancient Murricans, but the Mediterranean peoples had a similar thing. Smear on olive oil. Scrape it and the dirt off with a spatula.

Labradorian is on target. The term was “strigil” (I presume with some Latin ending).