The history of silk: Going further back in times

New findings change the history of silk as we used to know it

china archaeological siteIn our post Silk padding through history we have looked at how silk and its production accompanied the humankind from the very dawn of its history. Its discovery was previously traced back to ca. 3,000/2,500 BC.

However, a recent study by the University of Science and Technology of China, published in the journal Plos One, allows us to make a necessary and exceptional rectification.

The detailed analysis of some findings allowed scientists to come to the conclusion that the art of silk production was known in ancient China already in the Neolithic period, 8,500 years ago.


That is some 4,000 years earlier than previously assumed.


Presence of silk proteins

china silk finds place

The results of the innovative biomolecular chemical tests clearly revealed the presence of silk proteins — thought to be the leftovers of silk garments, — in soil samples taken from three tombs in the archaeological complex in the city of Jiahu, province of Henan, in Central China, inside a very important archaeological site.

first instrument music

It happens to be the same place where bone flutes, the first musical instruments known in the world, had been found, as well as what is considered the first testimony of writing Chinese.

The theory is supported by the presence of needles in bone and tools typical of a primordial weaving activity.


“*The Neolithic period, or the New Stone Age, is one of the three periods in which the prehistoric time, or the Stone Age, is divided. The other two are respectively the Paleolithic (Old Stone age) and the Mesolithic (Middle Stone age) periods.

The Neolithic period lasted from 8000 BC to 4000 BC. It is a period in which people abandoned nomadism, settled down, adopted sedentary lifestyle and founded the first villages. They started to create polished stone tools and then ceramic artifacts as well as the first metal tools, to breed animals and practice agriculture. To be able to meet a new challenge and count the amount of food which significantly increased compared to the times of hunting and gathering the humankind had to invent a new instrument which signified the beginning of its modern times: writing.”