Remains of Tapestry from a Xiongnu (Early 1st Century AD) Burial in Mound 22 at Noin-Ula
Remain s of Tapestry from a Xiongnu (Early 1st Century AD) Burial in Mound 22 at Noin-Ula
N.V. Polosmak1 and E.V. Karpova2 1Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 17, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia 2N.N. Vorozhtsov Novosibirsk Institute of Organic Chemistry, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pr. Akademika Lavrentieva 9, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
The article describes two pieces of decorated woolen tapestry discovered by the Russian-Mongolian expedition in a Xiongnu (early 1st century AD) burial at Noin-Ula (Noyon Uul) mound 22, Mongolia, in 2012. One piece shows a composition consisting of a line of fl owers surrounded by a “rolling wave” woven along the left edge, and bands of similar waves skirting the opposite side. The design on the other piece consists mostly of five bands with floral patterns separated by plain tawny stripes. The pieces are close, technologically, to woolen fabrics unearthed at Eastern Mediterranean cities such as Palmyra, Dura-Europos, and Masada. The designs resemble those on fabrics from early 1st millennium sites in Xinjiang (Shampula, Niya, and Loulan), as well as those on Syrian fabrics having typical Palmyra design. However, the Noin-Ula pieces differ from their Palmyran and Xinjiang counterparts by a more expressive manner of rendering fl oral motifs. On the basis of analysis of the dyes, the original palette is reconstructed. Our analysis suggests that the cloth could have been manufactured at an Eastern Mediterranean tapestry workshop—one of those of enduring fame. The cloth was probably imported to the Mongolian steppes, together with other articles, along the southern section of the Silk Road.