Re­port: Pre­his­toric silk found in He­nan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SHI BAOYIN and QI XIN in Zhengzhou

Sci­en­tists have found ev­i­dence of silk dat­ing back 8,500 years af­ter test­ing soil sam­ples from a Ne­olithic site in He­nan prov­ince.

The dis­cov­ery greatly ad­vances the study of the ma­te­rial’s his­tory and Ne­olithic cul­tures, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased on Mon­day by the Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy of China.

Gong De­cai, a pro­fes­sor with the col­lege’s sci­en­tific archaeology depart­ment, spent al­most six years com­plet­ing the re­search, which he also in­cluded in a re­cent ar­ti­cle for Plos One, an in­ter­na­tional aca­demic jour­nal.

He said his team found ev­i­dence of pre­his­toric fi­broin, an in­sol­u­ble pro­tein found in silk, in soil sam­ples col­lected from three tombs at Ji­ahu, a Ne­olithic site in He­nan’s Wuyang county that had set­tlers as early as 7,000 BC.

Com­pared with other an­cient relics such as pot­tery and bone or stone tools, which are of­ten found in ar­chae­o­log­i­cal digs, tex­tiles are highly sus­cep­ti­ble to degra­da­tion, mean­ing it’s rare they are pre­served for thou­sands of years.

Gong said ear­lier stud­ies had found proof of weav­ing skills and tools in the Ne­olithic pe­riod, such as spin­ning wheels, but un­til now, there had been a lack of di­rect ev­i­dence prov­ing the ex­is­tence of silk.

“The di­rect biomolec­u­lar ev­i­dence shows the ex­is­tence of pre­his­toric silk fi­broin, which was found in 8,500year-old tombs,” he said, adding that rough weav­ing tools and bone nee­dles were also ex­ca­vated, sup­port­ing the the­ory that Ji­ahu set­tlers pos­sessed ba­sic weav­ing and sewing skills.

The site is fa­mous for the dis­cov­ery of the ear­li­est playable mu­si­cal in­stru­ment, the bone flute; the ear­li­est mixed fer­mented bev­er­age of rice, honey and fruit; and the ear­li­est do­mes­ti­cated rice in north­ern China.

“The ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies are end­less,” Gong said. “With the ap­pli­ca­tion of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, more meth­ods have contributed to dis­cov­er­ies, which boost our knowl­edge of Ne­olithic civ­i­liza­tions step by step.”

Mi­grant work­ers hold up por­traits taken for free by mem­bers of the Bei­jing Model Worker As­so­ci­a­tion and pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts dur­ing an ac­tiv­ity on Tues­day held by the Bei­jing Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions to cel­e­brate the new year.

Zhu Lixin contributed to this story.

Con­tact the writers at qixin@chi­

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.