History of sea-silk

The Roman Empire at the time of its greatest extent in the 3rd c. AD.       Source
The Roman Empire at the time of its greatest extent in the 3rd c. AD. Source
Precious textiles were traded at all times and used as gifts. Already in the earliest texts carved in Hittite cuneiform on clay tablets, on papyri in Egyptian hieroglyphs, or Greek and Latin in stone: everywhere we find terms for textiles of all kinds. But it is often difficult to know which term is used for a specific material (Heinhold-Krahmer 2005, Michel & Nosch 2010). Often this is possible to discern only from context.

Since the 15th century the sources become more extensive. Dictionaries and encyclopaedias, inventory and gift lists, trade, goods and customs directories, auction and sales catalogues: Here we find references to the use of certain words and terms and their changes of meaning over the centuries.

The Internet offers new ways to browse through old tomes and archives and to search directly for specific terms. The following pages are therefore just a snapshot – they will be continuously supplemented and corrected if need be. Details about such updates can be found under News.