What Did Cavemen Wear?

Orin Zebest/CC-BY 2.0

Neanderthals, more commonly referred to as cavemen, generally wore simple outfits made from the hides and skins of animals. Neanderthals lived in many locations, including North America and later in Europe. The clothing of Neanderthals, like their housing structures, was typically heavy and thick to protect people from the elements and from dangerous exposure to the cold.

Early Neanderthals lived primarily in caves, but later established more complex and sophisticated dwelling areas, such as farms and villages. This change came primarily as Neanderthals transitioned from a nomadic and migratory lifestyle to a more sedentary way of life.

Prior to the Ice Age, Neanderthals spent much time following the animals they relied on for food and clothing on their seasonal migratory paths. Much of their travel necessitated moving through temperate climate zones and enduring long and harsh winters. To protect themselves from the snow, rain, wind and sun, Neanderthals made heavy and protective clothing from animal skins. The skins, hides and furs were used to create shirts, pants and shoes, which were fastened to their bodies by simply wrapping it around themselves, or by tying it with primitive strings.

In addition to making warm clothing, Neanderthals used animal skins and mammoth fur to build housing structures and make the interiors weatherproof and warm.