An Ancient Rug

It’s not uncommon to hear stories of ancient artifacts destroyed or degraded because of tomb robbers or water. In the case of the Pazyryk rug, just the opposite happened: because of tomb robbers and the water they subsequently let in, this unique artifact has remained remarkably well preserved for around 2,500 years, making it the oldest surviving example of a complete rug.

The ancient rug managed to survive so long because water let in by tomb robbers froze around the it. Because the rug was located in a cave in Siberia, the temperature was always quite cold and the rug never defrosted until it was discovered by archaeologists in the 1940s.

The Pazyryk rug was created using what we now think of as Turkish knotting, and it is covered in elaborate designs including winged griffins, antlered deer, and men on horseback. The sophisticated construction and design work show that people in ancient cultures had the skill and knowledge to create complex textiles.

Today the rug is housed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and you can see an image of it here. There are also many companies that make reproductions of the Pazyryk rug as it probably looked in the year 500 BC. 

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