Since ancient times, linen has been grown and venerated throughout the world. The oldest piece of clothing ever found, the 'Tarkhan dress' dates back to the first dynasty in Egypt, approximately 5000 years ago. Indeed it is believed that the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians created the first linen industries; however small scale production using wild flax (as evidenced by flax fibres found in a cave in Georgia) probably dates back to an astonishing 36,000 years!
As well as its practical uses, linen also seems to have been held in high esteem since early times in a cultural and religious sense. The Roman historian Plutarch cites that the priests of Isis in Egypt favoured linen because of its 'purity'. Egyptian mummies, including Pharaohs such as Tutankhamen, were wrapped in linen bandages. It is mentioned numerous times in ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts
The use of linen is also mentioned many times in the Bible. Angels and prophets both wear it. Jesus was born and died in it. In Deuteronomy 22:11, even God alludes to the importance of the purity of linen fibre; warning Jews not to wear cloth made of wool and linen woven together.
So why has mankind since time immemorial placed such value on linen? Why is it so special and why is it so often referred to as having healing or holy powers? In 2003, a Jewish doctor called Heidi Yellen ran a study on the healing frequencies of various fabrics and their effect on the human body. The human body has a naturally occurring electromagnetic field. A healthy body should resonate at approx. 100 hz. A diseased or dying body however only resonates at approx. 15 hz. The study found that synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon also resonate at 15 hz (as surprisingly does silk); and therefore these fibres have a very negative effect on the body - literally resonating at the frequency of disease. Organic cotton resonates at 100 hz (non organic cotton being much lower) and thus it has neither a positive or negative effect in the body. Linen and pure wool however both resonate at a tremendous 5000 hz - that's 50 times the natural frequency of the human body! Thus the healing and positive potential of these fibres on the body is exponential! Interestingly, God's warning not to mix the two fibres together is also proven by science. Heidi's study found that the energy field of wool flows in the opposite direction to the energy field of linen and thus the fields collapse and cancel each other out.
How the ancients were themselves aware of this we may never know. However, claims of linen miraculously healing illnesses of all kinds still occur to this day. Maybe that is why the linen textile industry is having something of a revival, as we subconsciously reach for a cure to our plastic-based, over-consumptive lifestyles. The world's oldest plant-based fibre may just be the detox we modern humans have been looking for.