(Posted on 03/10/17)
Generally accepted that they were first made by nomadic Turkic or Mongol tribesmen living somewhere in Central Asia, East Turkestan or Mongolia prior to the beginning of the 1st millennium BC. Their lifestyle (as nomadic herdsmen) and the prevailing climate (dry and hot in the deserts, dry and cold in the mountains) were both conducive to rug weaving and the region had an ample supply of other raw materials (e.g.cotton, plants for dyes). Physical evidence supporting this theory was uncovered, in 1947, by a Russian archaeologist, S.J. Rundenko, during his excavations of a 5th-century Scythian (or possibly Turkic) tomb located in the Altai Mountains is southern Siberia. It contained a number of flat-weaves, felt rugs and an almost entirely preserved hand knotted carpets ( now known as the Pazyryk carpet), which had been preserved for over 2000 years because the tomb had been broken into shortly after it was sealed, allowing in water that had subsequently frozen during the Siberian winter.
If this theory is true, it can be assumed that the various nomadic tribes in the region gradually spread their weaving skills throughout the rest of Asia through migration, trade, intermarriage, and, perhaps most importantly, via the numerous conquests. These began with the Huns (4th century) and reached their climax (11th to 15th centuries) as a succession of Turkic and Turko-Mongol armies swept westwards, settling in the conquered territories and bringing with them their weaving skills. Today, pile rugs are made throughout Asia and North Africa.