Lifestyle & Belief

600-year-old bras found in Austrian castle


A linen bra found in an Austrian castle in 2008. The garment dates back 600 years.


Archeological Institute of the University of Innsbruck

Archeologists from the University of Innsbruck have found four linen bras thought to be from the Middle Ages in an Austrian castle.

Fashion experts were surprised at the discovery because the bra had previously been considered to be only a little more than 100 years old, coming into use after women abandoned the tight corset, according to the Associated Press. It now appears that the bra came first, followed by the corset, followed by today's version of the bra.

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

"Four linen textiles resemble modern-time bras" with distinct cups were found, the university went on to tell the Courier Mail, 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."

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The four bras were found among more than 2700 textile fragments — some linen, others linen combined with cotton — that were mixed in with dirt, wood, straw and pieces of leather, reported the Courier Mail. They were even intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, suggesting they were not only functional, but also meant to please a suitor.

The bras, which were first discovered in 2008 and flew under the radar until now, were found alongside linen underwear. But according to the archeologists responsible for the finds, the undergarment would have belonged to a man, reported LiveScience. Women went bare under their skirts at the time.

According to the AP, head archeologist Beatrix Nutz said, "underpants were considered a symbol of male dominance and power."