Human beings are intuitively protective. Our survival as a species demands it. One manifestation of our protective urges is the habit of covering items that we perceive as “at risk for exposure.” Think umbrellas, hard hats, car ports, and baby bonnets. We want to care for ourselves and our belongings; we cover things because we’re human, and wearing clothes is an exclusively human quality.
We cover what and whom we value most, particularly the people we love! We have learned over the millennia to cover not only ourselves and our loved ones, but also foodstuffs, outdoor grills, expensive equipment, and vehicles for storage. Protecting our valuables is a key human task, and perhaps even a distinctly human one.
People have been covering themselves for a long time. Around 100,000-500,00 years ago humans started wearing clothing, usually made of leather. Since the days of leather attire, many developments in the evolution of clothing, including textiles, have occurred:
40,000 years—age of oldest sewing needles discovered
36,000 years—age of dyed flax fibers found in a cave in the Republic of Georgia
25,000 years—age of European Venus figurines, many depicting clothing, including basket hats or caps, belts, and a strap of cloth above the breasts
7,000 years—first cotton cloth used in ancient India
The oldest known woven textiles were found at a Neolithic site at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia. Linen was made in ancient Egypt during this time, and flax was grown even earlier. The ancient Egyptians used several spinning techniques, which are necessary to create thread, including using drop spindles, hand-to-hand spinning, and rolling on the thigh. They also used techniques adopted from Asia: the horizontal ground loom and vertical two-beam loom.
Food packaging follows a similarly long history. It began with natural materials such as leaves and eventually evolved into storage containers of weaved materials and pots. Glass and wood packaging are believed to have been around for 5000 years. But it wasn’t until 1823 that Englishman Peter Durand obtained the patent for the first metal can, with the double-stitched three-piece can used in 1900. Paper and cardboard became important packaging materials in the 1900’s, and plastic packaging was widely introduced after World War II, with its use booming in the 1970s.
Just as we cover and protect our bodies and our food, we must cover and protect our valuable equipment and vehicles. These things need to be protected from environmental extremes which cause corrosion and degradation so they can have a longer useable lifespan.
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