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Levi’s Acquires the Oldest Known Pair of Women’s Jeans

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The history of blue jeans has become the stuff of legend: After purchasing denim trousers from San Francisco-based merchant Levi Strauss, a tailor named Jacob Davis was inspired to reinforce them with copper rivets at their most vulnerable points. The two businessmen secured a patent for the blue jeans concept in 1873, and shortly afterward, the pants were embraced by miners, cowboys, and other working-class men.

But their popularity with women didn’t come until decades later. Levi Strauss & Co. produced its first line of jeans for women in the 1930s, and now TIME reports that what may be the oldest surviving pair of jeans from that era has been reacquired by the company.

The jeans, which sport a high waist, a cloth back patch, and a cinch in place of a belt, were first discovered at an estate sale by a vintage clothing collector. They originally belonged to a teacher named Viola Longacre, who died in 2014 at age 100. While earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Fresno State College (now California State University, Fresno), she wore the pants in the Sierra Mountains, where classes were held in the summer.

The pair was likely made prior to 1934, which was the year the Lady Levi’s collection was first released. The fact that the Levi Strauss & Co. patch on the back of the waist is cloth instead of leather leads company historian Tracey Panek to believe they were released as part of an experimental batch meant to gauge women’s interest in the product. Though they were a staple in men’s wardrobes at the time, jeans didn’t become a familiar sight on women until World War II.

After acquiring the garment from the clothing collector, Levi Strauss & Co. named it “Viola” after its original owner. It joins the oldest known men's jeans, a pair produced in 1879, in the company archives.

[h/t TIME]

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NASA, Getty Images
Watch Apollo 11 Launch
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
Vice President Spiro Agnew and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11
NASA, Getty Images

Apollo 11 launched on July 16, 1969, on its way to the moon. In the video below, Mark Gray shows slow-motion footage of the launch (a Saturn V rocket) and explains in glorious detail what's going on from a technical perspective—the launch is very complex, and lots of stuff has to happen just right in order to get a safe launch. The video is mesmerizing, the narration is informative. Prepare to geek out about rockets! (Did you know the hold-down arms actually catch on fire after the rocket lifts off?)

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Spacecraft Films on Vimeo.

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Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Utility Workers May Have Found One of Rome’s First Churches
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

The remains of what may have been one of Rome’s earliest Christian churches were accidentally discovered along the Tiber River during construction, The Local reports. The four-room structure, which could have been built as early as the 1st century CE, was unearthed by electrical technicians who were laying cables along the Ponte Milvio.

The newly discovered structure next to the river
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

No one is sure what to make of this “archaeological enigma shrouded in mystery,” in the words of Rome’s Archaeological Superintendency. Although there’s no definitive theory as of yet, experts have a few ideas.

The use of colorful African marble for the floors and walls has led archaeologists to believe that the building probably served a prestigious—or perhaps holy—function as the villa of a noble family or as a Christian place of worship. Its proximity to an early cemetery spawned the latter theory, since it's common for churches to have mausoleums attached to them. Several tombs were found in that cemetery, including one containing the intact skeleton of a Roman man.

Marble flooring
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma

A tomb
Romano D’Agostini, Giorgio Cargnel, Soprintendenza Speciale di Roma1

The walls are made of brick, and the red, green, and beige marble had been imported from Sparta (Greece), Egypt, and present-day Tunisia, The Telegraph reports.

As The Local points out, it’s not all that unusual in Rome for archaeological discoveries to be made by unsuspecting people going about their day. Rome’s oldest aqueduct was found by Metro workers, and an ancient bath house and tombs were found during construction on a new church.

[h/t The Local]

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