I will add more information about belts to this post as and when I come across them.
A number of belts have been preserved in the archaeological record. These are arranged in chronological order below.
Several bone objects, said to be belt hooks and eyes, were found at the famous Turkish site of Çatalhöyük. The early excavator in the 1960s, Mellaart, identified these objects and said they were mainly found in men’s graves (Düring 2003, 3).
Ötzi the Iceman was found in 1991 melting out of a glacier in the Ötztaler Alps. He dates to 3300 BC and had a copper axe, so technically is in the Chalcolithic (Copper Age) which exists on the continent but not in Britain. There’ll be more about him in another blog post. On this occasion I want to focus on his belt.
Ötzi wore leggings like cowboys’ chaps that were tied to a belt around his waist. This belt was made of calf leather and was about 5cm wide and had a pouch sewed on to the front. This was 20cm long although it only had a 7-8cm opening in the middle at the top. The belt itself was very long, probably about 2m in total. It was found in at least three fragments.
It was probably worn with the pouch on the abdomen at the front, the two ends passed round the back and then crossed over at the front and tucked in behind the pouch. There were three flint implements, a bone awl and some tinder found in the pouch. Leather and sinew were used to sew and repair this belt. His flint knife and retoucher were tied on to the belt. Two birch bracket fungi were also possibly tied on to his belt.
A loincloth of leather was also secured by the belt, both back and front. (Spindler 1993, 106-113).
Early Bronze Age
This was likely to have been mounted on wood and in this reconstruction drawing by Kelvin Wilson (right) the belt seems to have either been attached to the wooden board or possibly pushed through a slot in it at one end.
At the other end the belt may have ended with a loop that was looped over the gold belt hook. Whether the belt was made of leather, wool or some other material is not known (Cunliffe 2012, 221-3).
Early Bronze Age objects made of bone, stone and amber have also been found across Europe. They are sometimes called hourglass pendants or anchor pendants, depending on their particular design. One suggestion is that they are actually belt hooks (Kleijne 2016).
Tollund Man’s belt was made of leather with an oval hole cut at one end through which the other end was passed and then tied. It was 77cm long (Glob 1969). He dates to 360-200 BC (Ravn 2010, 114).
The Huldremose woman, also from Denmark, had a wasitband woven from the selvedge edge of her skirt folded over and sewn, with a cord within it to gather it up. It is not reported whether the cord was also of wool. She also had a long leather thong in a pocket inside her cape which may once have been a belt (Gleba & Mannering 2010, 32-3).
Cremation cemeteries from the middle Iron Age in the Netherlands, such as at Nederweert, Panningen and Weert, have both bronze and iron belt hooks, mainly in the graves of women and children (possibly girl children but it is difficult to tell the sex from the skeletons of juveniles). They appear to either be attached permanently to one end of the belt through a hole in the metal plate and then hooked through a corresponding hole in the end of the leather or woolen belt (Hiddink 2014, 193).
Cunliffe, B 2012. Britain Begins. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Düring, B. S 2003. Burials in context: The 1960s inhumations of Çatalhöyük East. Anatolian Studies 53, pp 1-15.
Gleba, M & Mannering, U 2010. A thread to the past: the Huldremose woman revisited. Archaeological Textiles Newsletter 50. pp32-7.
Glob, P.V. 1969. The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved. London, Faber and Faber
Hiddink, H, A 2014. Cemeteries of the Late Iron Age in the southern part of the Netherlands. In A. Cahen-Delhaye & G. De Mulder (eds), Des espaces aux esprits. L’organisation de la mort aux âges de Métaux dans le nord-ouest de l’Europe. Namur: Etudes et documents archéologie 32, pp 185-211.
Kleijne J 2016. Between Belts and Beakers. Pendants in the third millennium BC in Western and Central Europe. Metaaltijden 3, pp 45-63.
Ravn, M 2010. Bodies in Bogs: Bronze and Early Iron Age bog bodies from Denmark. Acta Archaeologica 81-1, pp 106-117.
Spindler, K 1993. The Man in the Ice. London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson.