The oldest cotton fibers found in the Jordan Valley were transported thousands of kilometers
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After research in the Jordan Valley, scientists have discovered what is probably the oldest remains of cotton.
Cotton fibers probably arrived in Tel Tzaf from the Indus Valley region, located in what is now Pakistan, thousands of miles away, according to The Jerusalem Post.
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The oldest evidence for the use of cotton fibers in the ancient Near East, and some of the oldest in the world, dating back almost 7,000 years, was found during archaeological excavations at Tel Tzaf, southeast of Beit Shean in the Jordan Valley. It is likely that the cotton fibers came to Tel Tzaf from the Indus Valley region in present-day Pakistan, a thousand kilometers away, and probably reached a large village that has existed since Chalcolithic times.
The cotton fibers found at Tel Tzaf predate the evidence found so far by several hundred years and probably arrived at Tel Tzaf from the Indus Valley region of present-day Pakistan, thousands of kilometers away. According to Professor Danny Rosenberg of the Institute of Archeology. Zinman at the University of Haifa, Tel Tzaf flourished during the transition between small agricultural societies and large cities of the country.
“Until now, we knew that the inhabitants of this site had trade relations with such distant regions as Egypt, Iraq and Anatolia, and now the circle of trade is expanding even further – to the Indus Valley, where cotton was probably first domesticated. Interesting in this early evidence, we believe that these cotton fibers, found together with wool fibers and vegetable fibers, arrived at the excavation site as part of fabrics or clothing, i.e. textiles.
Clothes do not stand the test of time
Humans have probably been making textiles for tens of thousands of years, using certain plants such as flax to create textile fibers. However, because tissues and many other organic materials tend to break down quickly in conditions other than dry or inorganic, they are difficult to find at a large number of sites in Mediterranean climates.
The main evidence comes to us from late texts and drawings or tools that were obviously used for production of fibers and textiles.
Recently, however, researchers have begun to use new methods of searching for organic finds, including microscopic and chemical tests, which can not only reveal traces of plants, but also determine whether this fiber was intentionally woven and what kind of plant it was from.
“Part of the problem is that this type of evidence has almost never been looked for in ancient sites, and often they don't even try to find this type of find,” continued Professor Rosenberg. “The main challenge in the DNA and organic materials research we are doing at Tel Tzaph is to prevent modern sample contamination. cotton fibers can be found in most garments today.
Recent years of excavation have already revealed evidence of important technological leaps that took place in Tel Tzaf and the economic links that its inhabitants had with very remote regions. They were an integral part of the formation of a new socio-economic order, such as the emergence of metal, the production of beer for public and ceremonial consumption, specialization in the creation of homogeneous stone bricks, the accumulation of food on a large scale.
So the researchers, led by Professor Li Liu from Stanford University in California and Rosenberg from the University of Haifa, set out to try to find the same hidden evidence for the use and production of textiles. The study, conducted simultaneously at two universities, examined samples taken from fragments of ancient pottery found in residential layers at the site and from the ground next to them, and promising results are already being used as the basis for various further studies.
Most of the evidence found in this study at Tel Tzaf involved flax fibers, but the researchers also found evidence of fibers that were likely made from other materials, in particular wool – presumably from sheep.
But an even more surprising find was cotton fibers, which are not native to the ancient Near East. According to famous researchers, today's cotton has four origins – two in South and Central America, one in the Indus Valley, where there is evidence of cotton use as early as 6,000 years ago, and the last in Africa, where there is evidence of cotton use dating back to the first century. BC. Ancient DNA studies have shown that cotton was domesticated independently and separately in these areas, and while it is not possible to determine whether cotton at Tel Tzaf is a domesticated plant, the researchers said that early dating of the find site strongly indicates that cotton fibers originated from the Indus Valley region, and not from any source in Africa or America.
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