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When the tomb of the Pharaoh Ramses II, who died in 1213 BC, was discovered in 1881, the linen wrappings were in a state of perfect preservation after more than 3000 years.

The earliest records of an established linen industry are 4,000 years old, from Egypt.

Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen as a symbol of light and purity, and as a display of wealth.

Some of these fabrics, woven from hand-spun yarns, were very fine for their day, but are coarse compared to modern linen.

The use of linen for priestly vestments was not confined to the Israelites; Plutarch wrote that the priests of Isis also wore linen because of its purity.

Linen fabric has been used for table coverings, bed coverings and clothing for centuries.

In the past, "linens" also referred to lightweight undergarments such as shirts, chemises, waist-shirts, lingerie (a word also cognate with linen), and detachable shirt collars and cuffs, all of which were historically made almost exclusively out of linen.

In December 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2009 to be the International Year of Natural Fibres in order to raise people's awareness of linen and other natural fibers.

Many products are made of linen: aprons, bags, towels (swimming, bath, beach, body and wash towels), napkins, bed linens, tablecloths, runners, chair covers, and men's and women's wear.

The word linen is of West Germanic origin and cognate to the Latin name for the flax plant, linum, and the earlier Greek λινόν (linón).

In ancient Mesopotamia, flax was domesticated and linen was first produced.

It was used mainly by the wealthier class of the society, including priests.

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