The oldest women’s bag on record.

The elaborate bag was made in Mosul, Iraq, around 1300 AD. Made of brass, inlaid with gold and silver, it has been identified as one of the earliest surviving examples of a women’s bag.

There is older evidence of wallets, such as parts of a 4,200-year-old wallet found in Germany. But this bag, however, remains relatively well preserved and whole.

The bag is a brass container inlaid with intricate scenes of court life in gold and silver, and probably belonged to a high-ranking member of the Court.

It was part of the ‘Cut and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq’ exhibition held at the Courtauld Gallery in London which focuses on elaborate art and crafts made in the area around Mosul during the rule of the Ilkhanids: Mongol forces under the leadership of Hulagu Khan who conquered much of the Middle East in the mid-13th century.

Wallets made from other materials such as cloth and leather are rare in the archaeological record, not because they were unpopular, but because leather and cloth tend to degrade much more quickly than metal, stone, or other materials. Keeping purses after digging can also be tricky.

It is easier to find purses like this one in Sutton Hoo, a place located in Suffolk, United Kingdom where the remains of a 7th century funeral ship were found in 1939, as well as various utensils.

Sutton Hoo has been of vital importance for historians of the Middle Ages since it provided information about that period in England; period that until the discovery was very little documented:

In Europe, in the past, the goldsmith’s work, the embroidery, the quality of the bag or purse indicated the “social status” of the person who was carrying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *