In the Neolithic Chinese settlement of Jiahu scientists have discovered evidence of silk proteins present in the soil samples of two tombs, one of which is believed to be over 8 500 years old. This new finding may provide much-needed insight into the origin of silk, and may just confirm that silk indeed originated in China.
Chinese legend has long foretold that it was after a silkworm cocoon dropped into the teacup of the wife of the Yellow Emperor, that she discovered the cocoon could unravel and yield about a kilometre of thread. The latest findings in Jiahu reveals, however, that people may have used this luxurious material thousands of years earlier.
Although scientists are still investigating exactly how silk was produced, the preliminary finding seems to suggest that people were perhaps buried in silk garments. The bone needles and weaving tools found at the site does suggest that these early decedents from Jiahu possessed basic weaving and sewing skills. The Neolithic or New Stone Age was characterized by progressive cultural changes, which included the use of wild and domestic crops: Finding silk textiles during this age is still a surprise and can indeed change the history of silk.
Silk remains a rare luxury, that famed the legendary network of trade routes of the Silk Road, which connected the East and West from China to Rome. Science continues to reveal and confirm its origins through many archaeological findings in China.