Thousands of years ago, deep in the Altai mountains in Siberia near the borders of China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, was a remote location known as the Pazyryk Valley. Within this valley lived the Scythian people, a semi-nomadic set of tribes that specialized in raising horses. In the 1940’s a Russian archaeologist named Sergei Rudenko unearthed a Scythian burial mound. Among the findings was a remarkably preserved carpet. Radiocarbon tests show the carpet dates to the 5th century BCE, making it the oldest piled carpet known to exist.
What makes the Pazyryk Carpet so Special?
Honestly, it wasn’t because the ancient Scythians had Preferred Carpet Care on their speed dial – we weren’t in business quite yet. Also, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that synthetic fibers were used in carpet. That means carpets like this one were made of pure organic materials. Even when treated, organic components deteriorate over time, assisted by the efforts of insects, rats, and other animals. So, how did the Pazyryk Carpet withstand pests and the passage of time?
Most historians believe that at some point, the gravesite was robbed and left unsealed. Water seeped in, and freezing temperatures preserved the remaining contents. Along with the carpet, other discovered contents include a chariot, various figurines, and mummies that were so well preserved that they still had attached hair and tattooed skin. Among all these, the Pazyryk Carpet is recognized as the most valuable item found in the tombs to date.
What really makes the Pazyryk Carpet so amazing is the craftmanship – it was made with what we know as the Turkish knot technique, boasting 36 symmetrical knots per square centimeter, which is over 1.25 million knots altogether! The colors are vibrant, and the sophisticated patterns point to years of experience and skill. Being Nomadic, typical Scythian carpets simply did not have this level of intricacy.
Interestingly, the Pazyryk valley was situated on a very active trade route which connected China and Central Asia, allowing for contact with many peoples. Both Armenia and Persia have respected histories in weaving exquisite carpets, and both cultures debate their claims on this carpet’s origin.
Learning from History
Please note that Preferred Carpet Care does not endorse freezing your carpets in blocks of ice or any other method. Likewise, we cannot say your well-maintained carpet will be held on display after the next cataclysm. However, regular maintenance and semi-annual professional carpet cleaning will help preserve your carpet for its lifetime, so you can enjoy its look, feel and protection during yours. Feel free to schedule an appointment to have your carpets professionally cleaned using our online form or give us a call. And if you have any other historical threads of carpet information, let’s discuss it!
- Posted by Rod Barth
- On June 11, 2020