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Silk Road zigzagged farther south than previously believed

EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran Designs are seen on the ceiling of the historic Tabriz market, 633 km (393 miles) northwest of Tehran, August 29, 2011. The Tabriz market was located along the Silk Road trade route and comprised of interlinked structures and spaces for various commercial, religious and educational uses. This market has been registered as a UNESCO heritage site on July 31, according to UNESCO's website. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN - Tags: SOCIETY)

Washington: A Nepali textile find has suggested that Silk Road may have extended farther south than it was previously believed.

The first results of textile and dye analyses of cloth dated between 400-650 AD and recovered from Samdzong 5, in Upper Mustang, Nepal have been released by Dr Margarita Gleba of the University of Cambridge.

Identification of degummed silk fibres and munjeet and Indian lac dyes in the textile finds suggests that imported materials from China and India were used in combination with those locally produced.

Gleba said that there is no evidence for local silk production suggesting that Samdzong was inserted into the long-distance trade network of the Silk Road, adding that the data reinforce the notion that instead of being isolated and remote, Upper Mustang was once a small, but important node of a much larger network of people and places.

“These textiles can further our understanding of the local textile materials and techniques, as well as the mechanisms through which various communities developed and adapted new textile technologies to fit local cultural and economical needs,” noted Gleba.

The cloth remains are of further significance as very few contemporary textile finds are known from Nepal. The dry climate and high altitude of the Samdzong tomb complex, at an elevation of 4000 m, favoured the exceptional preservation of the organic materials.

One of the cloth objects recovered is composed of wool fabrics to which copper, glass and cloth beads are attached. It was found near a coffin of an adult along with a spectacular gold/silver funerary mask. The mask has small pinholes around its edges, suggesting it had been sewn to a fabric, and probably constitutes the remains of a complex, decorative headwear.

The study appears in Science and Technology of Archaeological Research. (ANI)