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Ancient Mediterranean Of Silk

- Jul 27, 2018 -

In the Odyssey, 19.233, when Odysseus, while pretending to be someone else, is questioned by Penelope about her husband's clothing, he says that he wore a shirt "gleaming like the skin of a dried onion" (varies with translations, literal translation here) which could refer to the lustrous quality of silk fabric. Aristotle wrote of Coa vestis, a wild silk textile from KosSea silk from certain large sea shells was also valued. The Roman Empire knew of and traded in silk, and Chinese silk was the most highly priced luxury good imported by them. During the reign of emperor Tiberiussumptuary lawswere passed that forbade men from wearing silk garments, but these proved ineffectual The Historia Augusta mentions that the 3rd Century AD emperor Elagabalus was the first Roman to wear garments of pure silk, whereas it had been customary to wear fabrics of silk/cotton or silk/linen blends. Despite the popularity of silk, the secret of silk-making only reached Europe around AD 550, via theByzantine Empire. Legend has it that monks working for the emperor Justinian I smuggled silkworm eggs to Constantinople in hollow canes from China. All top-quality looms and weavers were located inside the Great Palace complex in Constantinople, and the cloth produced was used in imperial robes or in diplomacy, as gifts to foreign dignitaries. The remainder was sold at very high prices.

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