Israeli archaeologists have discovered hundreds of 1,300-year-old imported colorful fabrics, the University of Haifa (UH) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The findings include silk fabrics originating in China, as well as cotton fabrics imported from India, Iran and Sudan, all found in excavations carried out in the southeastern Arava valley by UH, together with the Israel Antiquities Authority and other universities.
"The findings indicate that there was a previously unknown Israeli silk road, branched off from the famous Silk Road network that connected ancient China to the rest of the world," Guy Bar-Oz, a senior archeologist at UH and head of the research, told Xinhua.
"At that time, there was a strong monopoly of Chinese silk worldwide," he said, adding after molecular genetic research on the silk remains, it will be possible to identify the silkworm species and thus know from which part of China the fabrics originated.
The fabrics' colors have been preserved well and include various colors and shapes in indigo blue, red from the Rubia tinctorum plant, brown, and other shades, UH noted.
Some of the Indian cotton fabrics bear ikat designs, in which the warp is tied and colored before weaving according to a pre-prepared model.
Other fabrics found at the site were made with complex weaving, which is still used today to make carpets in Iran and other countries in Central Asia.
The team also found a wide range of other imported items at the site, including leather straps, belts, socks, shoe soles, combs, backgammon dice, hygienic products like ear swabs and bandages, and more.
The richness and abundance of the finds indicate the high demand for luxury products from the Far East, as well as step progress in technological developments, and globalization that influenced the Middle East, UH concluded.