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June 26, 2014 By Andy Ross

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The 40 000 year old needle

This week I have been sewing up small items as prototypes and samples. Luckily I have a sewing machine and that makes the job much easier.

Sewing tweeds together can't be any more difficult than sewing animal skins and yet that is what our ancient ancestors did when they migrated into what is now Siberia. And the needles they used were made of bone. One of these fragile artefacts is 40,000 years old and proves that it was sewing that enabled those long-gone travellers to survive in bitter cold.

This piece of evidence is available for you to see on the BBC series of documentaries, The Incredible Human Journey, along with many other fascinating and intriguing discoveries. Beautiful art and wonderfully crafted sculptures, drawings and stone tools, and delicate and ephemeral traces of people as they migrated across the world. You can watch the series on YouTube, starting with Out of Africa.