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    So suggests new research that tracked changes in two genes thought to help regulate brain growth, changes that appeared well after the rise of modern humansyears ago. That the defining feature of humans — our large brains — continued to evolve as recently as 5, years ago, and may be doing so today, promises to surprise the average person, if not biologists. Lahn and colleagues examined two genes, named microcephalin and ASPM, that are connected to brain size.

    If those genes don't work, babies are born with severely small brains, called microcephaly. Using DNA samples from ethnically diverse populations, they identified a collection of variations in each gene that occurred with unusually high frequency. In fact, the variations were so common they couldn't be accidental mutations but instead were probably due to natural selection, where genetic changes that are favorable to a species quickly gain a foothold and begin to spread, the researchers report.

    Lahn offers an analogy: Medieval monks would copy manuscripts and each copy would inevitably contain errors — accidental mutations. Years later, a ruler declares one of those copies the definitive manuscript, and a rush is on to make many copies of that version — so whatever changes from the original are in this presumed important copy become widely disseminated.

    Scientists attempt to date genetic changes by tracing back to such spread, using a statistical model that assumes genes have a certain mutation rate over time. For the microcephalin gene, the variation arose about 37, years ago, about the time period when art, music and tool-making were emerging, Lahn said. For ASPM, the variation arose about 5, years ago, roughly correlating with the development of written language, spread of agriculture and development of cities, he said.

    Other scientists urge great caution in interpreting the research. That the genetic changes have anything to do with brain size or intelligence "is totally unproven and potentially dangerous territory to get into with such sketchy data," stressed Dr. Aside from not knowing what the gene variants actually do, no one knows how precise the model Lahn used to date them is, Collins added.

    Lahn's own calculations acknowledge that the microcephalin variant could have arisen anywhere from 14, to 60, years ago, and that the uncertainty about the ASPM variant ranged from to 14, years ago.

    Those criticisms are particularly important, Collins said, because Lahn's testing did find geographic differences in populations harboring the gene variants today. They were less common in sub-Saharan African populations, for example. That does not mean one population is smarter than another, Lahn and other scientists stressed, noting that numerous other genes are key to brain development. The work was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

    Language tree rooted in Turkey Evolutionary ideas give farmers credit for Indo-European tongues. The finding hints that farmers in what is now Turkey drove the language boom - and not later Siberian horsemen, as some linguists reckon. Russell Gray and Quentin Atkinson, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand use the rate at which words change to gauge the age of the tree's roots - just as biologists estimate a species' age from the rate of gene mutations.

    The differences between words, or DNA sequences, are a measure of how closely languages, or species, are related. Gray and Atkinson analysed 87 languages from Irish to Afghan. Rather than compare entire dictionaries, they used a list of words that are found in all cultures, such as 'I', 'hunt' and 'sky'. Words are better understood than grammar as a guide to language history; the same sentence structure can arise independently in different tongues.

    The resulting tree matches many existing ideas about language development. Spanish and Portuguese come out as sisters, for example - both are cousins to German, and Hindi is a more distant relation to all three. All other Indo-European languages split off from Hittite, the oldest recorded member of the group, between 8, and 10, years ago, the pair calculates 1. Around this time, farming techniques began to spread out of Anatolia - now Turkey - across Europe and Asia, archaeological evidence shows.

    The farmers themselves may have moved, or natives may have adopted words along with agricultural technology. The conclusion will be controversial, as there is no consensus on where Indo-European languages came from. Some linguists believe that Kurgan horsemen carried them out of central Asia 6, years ago. It shows how ideas about language evolution can be tested, she says: There is lots of word-swapping within language groups.

    English took 'skirt' from the Vikings, for example, but 'shirt' is original. Linguists must separate the shared from the swapped, as any error will affect later studies.

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    The Kurgan might not be out of the picture entirely, says McMahon - they may have triggered a later wave of languages. Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin.

    Nature,-doi: Earlier that morning I had set out on a pilgrimage to the Exalted Throne of Yahweh where Adam's god dwelt. Within an hour the noise and chaos of Tabriz had been left far behind, as our four-wheel drive ascended out of the alpine valley of the Adji Chay onto the plateau of the Sahand massif, with imposing volcano at its heart.

    Now I found myself at the entrance to one of our world's most extraordinary places - the troglodyte village of Kandovan. Ambling down the cobbled street - only just wide enough to take a donkey and cart - I turned up a steep side alley, all the time stalked by a clutch of free-roaming chickens. The alley soon morphed into a roughly sculpted flight of steps which twisted and turned between huge canine teeth of lava. Each was a home - a dwelling from a bygone age with rickety wooden door and tiny mullioned windows.

    In this Dysneyesque landscape of cave-dwellers, I almost expected Pinocchio to appear around the next bend. Kandovan - 'The Honeycombe'. My long journey, starting in the research libraries of London University, had led me to the Mesopotamian flood plain and on up into the mountains of Kurdistan, finally to reach the place the Book of Genesis calls the Garden of Eden. There is no straightforward way to explain how an Egyptologist, used to working in the dry heat of the north African deserts, should end up traversing the Zagros mountains of western Iran in search of the earthly paradise.

    I had begun my studies in the Departments of Egyptology and Ancient History at University College, London, with a major interest in the complex chronology of Egyptian civilisation. My PhD work to radically revise that chronology had inevitably drawn me into the world of biblical history - so closely bound up with the land of the pharaohs.

    Years of research had led me to the conclusion that many of the stories in the Old Testament were based on real historical events: But why was I now delving into the Book of Genesis - that most mythological and hoary of the biblical texts?

    Surely it would have been better to leave well alone? But that is not my way. The simple fact is that ancient stories and legends have always fascinated me and the chance to uncover the historical reality behind the greatest legend of them all was just too tempting an opportunity to pass by. The 'Temptation Seal' on display in the British Museum.

    Back in I had been sent a short, privately published paper by amateur historian, Reginald Walkerwhich proposed a location for the Garden of Eden in north-western Iran. The main thrust of Walker's argument was that the four rivers of Eden, described in Chapter Two of Genesis, were to be found in that region. All four had their sources the Bible refers to them as 'heads' around the two great salt lakes of Van and Urmia. Ever since the time of the Jewish historian Josephus, a near contemporary of Christ, scholars have tried to use Genesis 2 to locate Eden.

    But the problem has always been the identification of the rivers themselves. The first two are no problem: The remaining two rivers, however, have always been a mystery.

    Clearly, in order to locate Eden precisely, we need to find the sources of all four - and that's where Walker's research comes in. By checking the writings of the Islamic geographers who accompanied the Arabic invasion of Persia in the 8th century, I was able to confirm that this was indeed the case.

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    Moreover, even as late as the last century, Victorian atlases and encyclopaedias were still naming the river as the Gaihun-Aras. The Gaihun is therefore the missing biblical Gihon. The fourth river - the Pishon - was more difficult to find. Walker suggested that this Hebrew West Semitic name derived from the old Iranian Uizhun, where the Iranian vowel 'U' had been converted into the Semitic labial consonant 'P'.

    Thus we have Uizhun to Pizhun to Pishon. Strange as it may seem, such switches do occur between the two language groups. For instance, one archaeological site in Iran is known by its Arabic West Semitic name of Pisdeli whereas its ancient Iranian name was Uishteri. The river Uizhun the modern Qezel Uzun - thus identified as the biblical Pishon - flows down from the mountains of Kurdistan and empties into the southern basin of the Caspian Sea.

    The four rivers of Eden. Bringing all this together we find that the sources of all four rivers originate in the highland area which Alexander the Great knew as Armenia and we know today as eastern Turkey and western Iran. A crucial line in the epic describes the envoy descending from the last of the seven mountain passes the Sumerians called them 'gates' and crossing a broad plain before arriving at the city of Aratta with its red-painted city wall.

    The envoy, journeying to Aratta, covered his feet with the dust of the road and stirred up the pebbles of the mountains. So, combining Walker's discovery of the four rivers together with the Sumerian location of Eden, it seemed as though the whereabouts of the lost Eden and its fabled garden was near to being resolved. I decided to set out for the ancient city of Susa burial place of Daniel of the lions' den in the south-western flood plain of Iran Iraq was off bounds for obvious reasons from where I determined to retrace the Sumerian envoy's route to paradise.

    Following the ancient track through the seven 'gates', I eventually reached the Miyandoab plain to the south of Lake Urmia.

    The journey had taken four days by car but would have taken the envoy the best part of four months by donkey.

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    The edin remains today one of the lushest regions of the Middle East: This, I am sure, was the original heart of Eden which, over time, became a much wider area, including both the salt lakes and the Garden of Eden itself. The Bible describes the latter as being 'east in Eden' - in other words to the east of but still within the wider territory of Eden. My driver and I continued eastwards, between the south-eastern shore of Lake Urmia and the towering volcanic peak of Mount Sahand.

    An hour's drive along the highway brought us into a long west to east valley, the slopes of which were terraced with 'every kind of tree' smothered in spring blossom God planted a garden in Eden, which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. From the soil, God caused to grow every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat. The nearest mountain to the north glowed bright red in the low evening light - a pile of pure red ochre.

    At its foot sprawled the regional capital of Tabriz, squatting at the centre of the valley where Adam and Eve whoever they were once lived according to biblical tradition. The first thing which came to mind was paradise lost. Nothing of the earthly garden and its settlement could have survived beneath these bustling streets. But then, away from the city, I soon discovered that there was much that remains of Adam's Neolithic culture.

    Paradise Lost - the sprawling city of Tabriz. This was the region where Man first began to settle down to sedentary life; where he learnt to domesticate animals and plant his crops; and where he began to bury his dead in graves, the bones painted in red-ochre.

    Adam's name means the 'red-earth' man.
    Click here to move directly to the list of machine-made dating questions. Machine-made bottles will exhibit most or all of the diagnostic characteristics explained and illustrated below.

    It should be noted that features 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are primary indicators of machine-made manufacture. Feature 2 mold seam diameter is not as strongly diagnostic as the primary indicators as mouth-blown bottles sometimes can have very fine mold seams. Feature 7 describes a couple glass related features that are quite consistent in machine-made bottles, but not diagnostic, i. Click on the machine-made beer bottle picture above to see an illustration of this bottle showing the major diagnostic characteristics of a typical machine produced bottle.

    Vertical side mold seams which usually see the Note box below point 3 for an exception run up to the highest point of the finish and often onto the extreme top finish surface i. The statement about machine-made bottles may seem contradictory finer but more visually distinct but is a function of the higher machine blowing pressure.

    Most machine-made bottles have mold seams about the thickness of a hair while most visible mouth-blown mold seams tend to be several times as thick, higher, but more rounded. Mold seam thickness and how high it protrudes [height] is of only moderate use in telling a machine-made bottle from a mouth-blown bottle, though if a bottle fragment has a hair fine mold seam, it is highly likely to be from a machine-made bottle. There are at least two additional finish related mold seams - one at the top of the finish which encircles either the bore or sometimes the outside of the upper lip portion of the finish sometimes both of these seams are present and a horizontal seam immediately below the finish which circles the extreme upper neck called a "neck ring parting line".

    Click on the picture to the left to view an illustration which shows both of these seams or click machine-made finish to view an image which shows well the seam below the finish. Both seams are quite diagnostic of machine manufacture and are usually visible, though the seam at the top of the finish can be hard to see on some bottles - especially if the finish was fire polished. In the glassmaking trade, these seams along with the side mold seams within the finish or just below are referred to as "neck ring" or "neckring" seams since they were formed by the separate neck ring portion of a machine mold Tooley These deviations are discussed on the main Bottle Dating page in a box under Question 2.

    Click Exceptions to Question 2 to view this discussion. These are faint, somewhat wandering, hairline seams which if present usually are sporadically visible on the sides of machine-made bottles. The ghost seams are caused by the parison mold parts and if visible enough will be "attached" to the vertical seams in the finish.

    Click on ghost seam to view a close-up explanatory picture of this attribute. Be aware that bottles and jars made by early to midth century press-and-blow machines do not usually have ghost seams, since the parison mold was usually one-piece, but will typically have a valve mark on the base see 6 below. A suction scar is present on the base of Owens Automatic Bottle Machine produced bottles.

    This distinctive base scar is easier to illustrate than describe; click on suction scar for a picture of a typical scar which exhibits the diagnostic "feathering" that surely indicates Owens machine production same image is below left.

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    This mark is distinctive to the suction process which feeds glass into the bottom of an Owens machine's parison mold. A movie clip showing this process in action is linked at the bottom of this box. Suction scars can not be produced by feed and flow automatic machines i. P ress-and-blow machines usually have a round valve mark on the base but lack either the suction or parison scars. In any event, the suction scar is never found on mouth-blown bottles though suction scars are sometimes referred to as a pontil scar by the unfamiliar.

    See the machine-made section of the Bottle Bases page for more information on these scars. It is likely that other types of suction based automatic bottle machines made in Europe in the s - and possibly later - also produced a suction scar on the base of their products [Pearson ]. However, a large majority of bottles in the U. The presence of a circular valve mark on the base of a bottle typically a wide mouth bottle or jar is sure evidence of machine-made manufacture by a press-and-blow machine.

    This is discussed further as Question 14 below. Machine-made bottles tend to have few if any bubbles in the glass and the thickness of the glass is usually more uniform throughout the bottle as compared to mouth-blown bottles.

    This is especially true of later machine made bottles, i. The presence or absence of bubbles in the glass and relatively even distribution of the glass throughout the characteristic is not a primary feature of either machine-made or mouth-blown bottles, though there are strong trends. What these Diagnostic Features Indicate: Bottles with all the noted primary machine-made characteristics 1, 3- 5 including the suction scar on the base point 5 above and picture to the left can date no earlier than and are usually post Though patented and first used to a limited degree inthe first Owens Automatic Bottle Machine licenses were granted to other manufacturers in late making the effective "beginning" i.

    Bottles which have all the primary characteristics noted above 1, 3, 4 without the suction scar 5 were produced by non-Owens automatic or semi-automatic machines and are somewhat harder to precisely date, though the vast majority post-date also. Narrow neck press-and-blow machine?

    It should be noted that one fairly early press-and-blow semi-automatic machine was designed to produce narrow bore bottles. This is accomplished so that there is no perceptible mark upon the bottle showing the joint, and the bottle stands every possible test as to strength. The machine is operated much as all pressing machines are Although products of this machine are not conclusively known a bottle such as the one at this link - offset seams shoe polish bottle - may well be a product of the described machine as there is a distinct and abrupt interface edge at the shoulder where the mold seams for both the body and neck end and are offset.

    This little bottle has a moderately narrow neck and a distinct valve or ejection mark on the base indicating press-and-blow machine manufacture.

    Added evidence to this theory is that an identical shape and size 2 oz. More specifically, non-Owens machine-made bottles with narrow necks similar to the amber beer bottle pictured earlier will always date after and typically after regardless of what type machine they were produced on since the first blow-and-blow semi-automatic machines capable of producing narrow necked bottles copied after English machines invented somewhat earlier were first made or used at that time in the U.

    Boow ; Cable Very few narrow neck bottles made on the Owens machines will pre-date that time also. Bottles or jars with wide mouths like the jar pictured under Question 15 below may occasionally pre-dateto as early as aboutsince semi-automatic press-and-blow machines were being used to some degree by the mids. The first production bottles known to have been made on semi-automatic machines were wide mouth Vaseline bottles made by the C.

    It is thought that probably all pre semi-automatic bottle machine production in the U. The photo below is from the Lewis Hine collection Library of Congress and shows an early, probably O'Neill Barrett semi-automatic press-and-blow 4 mold milk bottle which have relatively wide mouths machine which came with the following caption: No "lung blowers" employed.

    Manager says machines are fast coming into play in bottle industry, plans eventually to have machines in place of "carrying in boys.

    Clarksburg, West Virginia" Library of Congress. This two table semi-automatic machine would have been hand fed with glass furnace likely to the right and does have the two different mold sets with the parison molds where the first "press" part of the cycle took place the set on the right.

    Blowing air would have been supplied by the hose visible at the top of the set of blow molds to the left, where the final "blow" part of the cycle took place.

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    This allows for a high probability begin date of around to for most wide mouth, machine-made bottles and jars Illinois Glass Company, However, since the products of automatic and semi-automatic non-Owens machines date from the same era as the Owens machine and are largely indistinguishable, they are all considered together on this machine-made bottle dating page.

    Mouth-blown to Machine-made Transition Era: The transition from mouth-blown to machine-made bottles was a fairly long and circuitous road. Between and about orthe only fully automatic machine was the Owens Automatic Bottle Machine and until the late s they were granting exclusive licenses for various categories of bottles.

    In aboutreliable gob-feeders became available which converted most types of semi-automatic machines to fully automatic at a lower cost than the Owens Machines. For instance the Carr-Lowery Glass Company Baltimore, MD began automatic bottle making inbut retained some hand-blowing operations until at least when Dr. Toulouse published Bottle Makers and Their Marks!

    In one glass factory a wall had to be erected between the hand operations and the newly installed machine to prevent sabotage. In another instance, worker opposition was so strong that the machine operations were abandoned! These numbers help to determine general dating break probabilities for both machine-made and mouth-blown bottles.

    Likewise, the probability that a bottle exhibiting mouth-blown hand-made diagnostic features dating prior to the mids is very high and after the s is very low, though not impossible as noted above. The link below allows a user to view an amazing short movie clip that shows two different early Owens Automatic Bottle Machines in operation. The first machine is the "Machine 5" which the film clip script notes as having been made in in Toledo, Ohio. This was apparently the earliest of the viable commercial machines, and in fact, the clip was made to help promote and sell the machine to potential buyers.

    The first person shown operating Machine 5 is Emil Bock, a mechanical genius who worked with Michael Owens from the "bicycle pump" early machine experimentation days s and transformed Mike's ideas into workable steel machines.

    Michael Owens is the second person shown picking up and examining a couple beer bottles. This clip is also reported to be the only movie ever made showing Michael Owens who was reputed to be "camera shy. Film clip is compliments of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company. Many thanks to Phil Perry - a senior engineer with that company - who graciously provided this clip.
    Woven silk textile from Tomb No.

    For instance, Warwick Ball contends that the maritime spice trade with India and Arabia was far more consequential for the economy of the Roman Empire than the silk trade with Chinawhich at sea was conducted mostly through India and on land was handled by numerous intermediaries such as the Sogdians.

    Significantly, these mines were not very far from the lapis lazuli and spinel "Balas Ruby" mines in Badakhshanand, although separated by the formidable Pamir Mountainsroutes across them were apparently in use from very early times. This style is particularly reflected in the rectangular belt plaques made of gold and bronze, with other versions in jade and steatite. Scythians accompanied the Assyrian Esarhaddon on his invasion of Egyptand their distinctive triangular arrowheads have been found as far south as Aswan.

    History of Medieval & Renaissance Quilting

    These nomadic peoples were dependent upon neighbouring settled populations for a number of important technologies, and in addition to raiding vulnerable settlements for these commodities, they also encouraged long-distance merchants as a source of income through the enforced payment of tariffs. Sogdians played a major role in facilitating trade between China and Central Asia along the Silk Roads as late as the 10th century, their language serving as a lingua franca for Asian trade as far back as the 4th century.

    By the time of Herodotus c. By having fresh horses and riders ready at each relay, royal couriers could carry messages and traverse the length of the road in nine days, while normal travellers took about three months.

    The next major step in the development of the Silk Road was the expansion of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great into Central Asia. They continued to expand eastward, especially during the reign of Euthydemus — BCEwho extended his control beyond Alexandria Eschate to Sogdiana.

    There are indications that he may have led expeditions as far as Kashgar in Chinese Turkestanleading to the first known contacts between China and the West around BCE. The Greek historian Strabo writes, "they extended their empire even as far as the Seres China and the Phryni. Chinese exploration of Central Asia[ edit ] Main articles: This extension came around BCE, with the embassies of the Han dynasty to Central Asia following the reports of the ambassador Zhang Qian [33] who was originally sent to obtain an alliance with the Yuezhi against the Xiongnu.

    Zhang Qian visited directly the kingdom of Dayuan in Ferghanathe territories of the Yuezhi in Transoxianathe Bactrian country of Daxia with its remnants of Greco-Bactrian rule, and Kangju. He also made reports on neighbouring countries that he did not visit, such as Anxi ParthiaTiaozhi MesopotamiaShendu Pakistan and the Wusun. Ferghana Dayuan "Great Ionians " and the possessions of Bactria Ta-Hsia and Parthian Empire Anxi are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, but with weak armies, and placing great value on the rich produce of China" Hou Hanshu, Later Han History.

    Others [37] say that Emperor Wu was mainly interested in fighting the Xiongnu and that major trade began only after the Chinese pacified the Hexi Corridor. The Silk Roads' origin lied in the hands the Chinese.

    The soil in China lacked Selenium, a deficiency which contributed to muscular weakness and reduced growth in horses.

    Even after the construction of the Great Wall, nomads gathered at the gates of the wall to exchange. Soldiers sent to guard the wall were often paid in silk which they traded with the nomads. The Chinese subsequently sent numerous embassies, around ten every year, to these countries and as far as Seleucid Syria. As a rule, rather more than ten such missions went forward in the course of a year, and at the least five or six. These connections marked the beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire.

    It has been suggested that the Chinese crossbow was transmitted to the Roman world on such occasions, although the Greek gastraphetes provides an alternative origin.

    Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy suggest that in 36 BCE, a "Han expedition into central Asia, west of Jaxartes River, apparently encountered and defeated a contingent of Roman legionaries.

    The Romans may have been part of Antony 's army invading Parthia. Sogdiana modern Bukharaeast of the Oxus River, on the Polytimetus River, was apparently the most easterly penetration ever made by Roman forces in Asia. The margin of Chinese victory appears to have been their crossbows, whose bolts and darts seem easily to have penetrated Roman shields and armour.

    Even the rest of the nations of the world which were not subject to the imperial sway were sensible of its grandeur, and looked with reverence to the Roman people, the great conqueror of nations. Thus even Scythians and Sarmatians sent envoys to seek the friendship of Rome. Nay, the Seres came likewise, and the Indians who dwelt beneath the vertical sun, bringing presents of precious stones and pearls and elephants, but thinking all of less moment than the vastness of the journey which they had undertaken, and which they said had occupied four years.

    In truth it needed but to look at their complexion to see that they were people of another world than ours. Han general Ban Chao led an army of 70, mounted infantry and light cavalry troops in the 1st century CE to secure the trade routes, reaching far west to the Tarim basin. Ban Chao expanded his conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea and the borders of Parthia. The Silk Roads were a "complex network of trade routes" that gave people the chance to exchange goods and culture.

    It extended, via ports on the coasts of India and Sri Lankaall the way to Roman -controlled ports in Roman Egypt and the Nabataean territories on the northeastern coast of the Red Sea. The earliest Roman glassware bowl found in China was unearthed from a Western Han tomb in Guangzhoudated to the early 1st century BCE, indicating that Roman commercial items were being imported through the South China Sea.

    Harper asserts that a 2nd or 3rd-century Roman gilt silver plate found in JingyuanGansuChina with a central image of the Greco-Roman god Dionysus resting on a feline creature, most likely came via Greater Iran i.

    The Roman Empire inherited eastern trade routes that were part of the Silk Road from the earlier Hellenistic powers and the Arabs. With control of these trade routes, citizens of the Roman Empire received new luxuries and greater prosperity for the Empire as a whole.

    Intercontinental trade and communication became regular, organised, and protected by the 'Great Powers. Notably, Pliny the Elder knew better. Speaking of the bombyx or silk moth, he wrote in his Natural Histories "They weave webs, like spiders, that become a luxurious clothing material for women, called silk.

    I can see clothes of silk, if materials that do not hide the body, nor even one's decency, can be called clothes Wretched flocks of maids labour so that the adulteress may be visible through her thin dress, so that her husband has no more acquaintance than any outsider or foreigner with his wife's body. The unification of Central Asia and Northern India within the Kushan Empire in the 1st to 3rd centuries reinforced the role of the powerful merchants from Bactria and Taxila.

    Byzantine-Mongol alliance Byzantine Greek historian Procopius stated that two Nestorian Christian monks eventually uncovered the way silk was made. From this revelation, monks were sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian ruled — as spies on the Silk Road from Constantinople to China and back to steal the silkworm eggsresulting in silk production in the Mediterranean, particularly in Thrace in northern Greece, [70] and giving the Byzantine Empire a monopoly on silk production in medieval Europe.

    It was closed after the Tibetans captured it inbut induring Empress Wu 's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi originally installed in[85] once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade.

    The Tang dynasty along with Turkic allies conquered and subdued Central Asia during the s and s. The Tang dynasty established a second Pax Sinicaand the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian and Sogdian merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West.

    At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, making it very cosmopolitan in its urban centres. In addition to the land route, the Tang dynasty also developed the maritime Silk Route. Europeans in Medieval China Caravan on the Silk Road, The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade.

    In its heyday, it sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the MagyarsArmeniansand Chinese. The Silk Road reached its peak in the west during the time of the Byzantine Empire ; in the Nile- Oxus section, from the Sassanid Empire period to the Il Khanate period; and in the sinitic zone from the Three Kingdoms period to the Yuan dynasty period. Persian Sassanid coins emerged as a means of currency, just as valuable as silk yarn and textiles.

    They were the main caravan merchants of Central Asia. At this time caravans of Sogdians travelling to Upper Mongolia are mentioned in Chinese sources. They played an equally important religious and cultural role. Part of the data about eastern Asia provided by Muslim geographers of the 10th century actually goes back to Sogdian data of the period — and thus shows the survival of links between east and west.

    However, after the end of the Uighur Empire, Sogdian trade went through a crisis. What mainly issued from Muslim Central Asia was the trade of the Samanidswhich resumed the northwestern road leading to the Khazars and the Urals and the northeastern one toward the nearby Turkic tribes.

    Islamic era and the Silk Road[ edit ].
    The problem with this familiar stereotype is that it doesn't go far enough. Quilted garments padded Crusader mail, quilted linens adorned Renaissance bedchambers, and quilted Evangelists were treasured at 15th century monasteries. The evidence is scattered and sometimes hard to recognize, but quilts and quilting were hardly alien to pre-colonial Europe.

    The word quilt is derived from the Latin culcita, meaning a padded and tied mattress. Quilting is a needlework technique involving two or more layers of fabric, usually sandwiched with padding of some sort, stitched together in a decorative pattern. The first known quilted object is a quilted linen carpet dating from that time found in a Siberian cave tomb.

    Whether the technique originated in Siberia or not, quilted objects such as a linen slipper began cropping up along the Silk Road between Asia and Europe between the 6th and 9th centuries. Quilting does not appear to have been done in Europe much before the 12th century, and is usually thought to have been brought back from the Middle East by the returning Crusaders. Bed quilts are mentioned in two medieval poems, the 12th century La Lai del Desire and the 13th century Parzival.

    There is also a reference in a French inventory of to a ship captain in Marseilles owning a courtepointe or quilt. Quilted clothing and armor began to appear in the 14th century, much of it made by armorers' guilds in Italy. The first surviving European quilts are three trapunto quilts made in Sicily in the late 14th century. All show scenes from the Tristan.

    A similar quilt is shown in Bartolomeo Bermejo's painting The Death of the Virgin, while a Provencal inventory of mentions linen bedcovers worked "in the style of Naples. Indian cotton quilts and quilted palampores were wildly popular in Portugal, while silk quilts from the Mediterranean island of Chios were used throughout Europe. Quilting became very popular among aristocratic circles, with quilts showing up in inventories in Wales, Italy, France, and England. Henry VIII's household inventory of lists literally dozens of "quyltes" and "coverpointes" among the bed linens, mainly of "holland cloth," cotton or linen"bockeram" cotton ," silk "sarceonett" and "tapheta" and "lynnen.

    It may be hard to see the medieval roots of modern quilting, but there are faint traces of the past in 21st century wholecloth quilts.

    The Jews of Bessarabia

    Modern quilters may use cotton instead of linen, and a running stitch instead of a back stitch, but the floral and abstract designs would be familiar to any Renaissance needleworker. This paper is based on her class notes for her "Historic Deerfield" symposium presentation. Thanks to Lisa Evans for permission to use the above pictures of the Renaissance reproduction quilt she made. Lisa is involved in Renaissance reenactment as Sarah Davies.

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