Fibres are raw materials that can be converted into textile yarns. Fibres come in three categories:
1) natural, made either from plants (cellulose) or animals (fleece); 2) semi-synthetic, derived from cellulose (rayon, viscose); 3) synthetic or artificial or man-made, produced from petroleum (polyester, nylon, etc).
Textiles have been fundamental to human culture, history, and industry (Bédat 2021; Postrel 2020; St. Clair 2019). The process of going from fibre to yarn to fabric involves trade-specific technologies. Fibres are called staple if they are short in length; or filaments, if their length is longer (as is the case in for example silk or polyester). These fibres have to be twisted and spun into a yarn or thread before being processed into fabrics.
The very beginning of fibres can be traced back to neolithic times. Because fabric tends to decay and disappear over time, archaeologists have to conduct their research on literal scraps of fibre or even just some pollen. Radiocarbon dating shows that already in prehistoric times threads were made from bast. Worldwide, people discovered how to create yarn out of fibres from flax (to make linen) and fleece (to make wool). But a yarn is not yet a fabric, so people also had to learn how to spin it into a yarn that is strong and smooth enough to be further processed into fabric by weaving; a highly complex technology that goes back 24,000 years.