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Austrians drool over 15th-century jub buckets

Earliest known bra unearthed in East Tyrol

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A team from the Institute of Archaeologies at the University of Innsbruck reckons it's unearthed the earliest known bra - a pair of 15th-century linen jub buckets which turned up in a castle in East Tyrol.

The Lengberg compared with a 1950s longline bra. Pic: University of InnsbruckThe antique büstenhalter was among 2,700 textile fragments in a rubbish-filled vault in Lengberg Castle.

The university says it's similar to a 1950's modern longline bra, as its comparative snap shows. It explains: "The cups are each made from two pieces of linen sewn together vertically.

"The surrounding fabric of somewhat coarser linen extends down to the bottom of the ribcage with a row of six eyelets on the left side of the body for fastening with a lace. The corresponding row of eyelets is missing.

"Needle-lace is sewn onto the cups and the fabric above thus decorating the cleavage. In the triangular area between the two cups there might have been additional decoration, maybe another sprang-work."

The uni dated the bra by first linking the waste from the vault to recorded 15th century building work at Lengberg Castle, then confirmed it by Carbon-14 dating.

Team leader Beatrix Nutz gasped to BBC History Magazine: "We didn't believe it ourselves. From what we knew, there was no such thing as bra-like garments in the 15th century."

Given her surname, it's entirely appropriate that Ms Nutz also found a fine pair of linen male underpants:

The Lengberg underpants. Pic: University of Innsbruck

They may look like women's smalls, and despite the Daily Mail's assertion that they're knickers with "more than a passing resemblance to the string bikini briefs popular today", they are most certainly bloke's apparel.

Nutz clarified that medieval women didn't wear knickers, and that underpants "were considered a symbol of male dominance and power". ®

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