Chinese archaeologists have found textiles in a mysterious tomb
dating back nearly 2,500 years in Eastern Jiangxi Province, the
oldest to be discovered in China's history.
The textiles, which are well-preserved and feature stunning
dyeing and weaving technologies, will rewrite the history of China's
textile industry, says Wang Yarong, an archaeologist who has been
following the findings in the textile sector for more than three
"Chinese anthropologists suspect the textile industry burgeoned
in distant periods of history and this is the first piece of
concrete evidence to support their hypothesis," she said.
Wang and her colleagues found more than twenty pieces of fine
silk, flax and cotton cloth in 22 of a total 47 coffins unearthed
from the tomb in Lijia village in Jing'an County.
"Most of them are fine fabrics and the largest piece is 130cm
long, 52cm wide and woven with complicated techniques," said Wang, a
researcher with the textiles preservation centre of the
Beijing-based Capital Museum.
A Peking University professor found with infrared devices that a
piece of cotton cloth was partly red and partly black. "It was dyed
red with vermilion," said Professor Zhang Xiaomei.
Historical records show the Arabians were able to produce
vermilion in the eighth century and the Europeans learned the
methods from them in the seventeenth century.
Yet the tomb where these fabrics were found is believed to date
back to the Middle Period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC).
The tomb, sixteen metres long, 11.5 metres wide and three metres
deep, was found last December and the excavation was completed only
It contained the largest group of coffins ever discovered in a
single tomb and its excavation was dubbed "the most important
archaeological project of the year" by cultural experts and the