Yarn, fabrics, and tools for spinning and weaving have been found among the earliest relics of human habitations. Linen fabrics dating from 5000 B.C. have been discovered in Egypt. Woolen textiles from the early Bronze Age in Scandinavia and Switzerland have also been found. Cotton has been spun and woven in India since 3000 B.C., and silk has been woven in China since at least 1000 B.C. About the 4th cent. A.D., Constantinople began to weave the raw silk imported from China. A century later silk culture spread to the Western countries, and textile making developed rapidly. By the 14th cent. splendid fabrics were being woven on the hand looms of the Mediterranean countries in practically all the basic structures known to modern artisans, and there has been no change in fundamental processes since that time, although methods and equipment have been radically altered.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.