For around 2,500 years the 'Pazyryk Carpet' was an undiscovered gem of the world, hidden from view yet preserved remarkably in the icy mountains of southern Russia. It wasn't until 1949 that the artefact was uncovered by archaeologists in the Scythian tombs of the Altai mountain range during an archaeological dig.
Now, we have digitally reconstructed the damaged areas of the carpet in order to recreate the magnificent piece and demonstrate how it would have appeared in its entirety.
The piece was woven using a symmetrical double-knot technique and contains well over a million knots throughout. The rigid construction of the double knot technique creates a very hardwearing piece, which combined with the icy conditions of the Altai mountain range would have aided in its preservation over the years.
Carbon dating confirmed the Pazyryk carpet was woven between the 5th and 4th Century BC, making it the oldest known pile carpet in existence today.
Although the carpet was found in the burial tomb of a Scythian Prince, many believe it was in fact woven by the neighbouring Achaemenid Persians, as its design is strikingly similar to Achaemenid designs of the same era. As similarity of designs is not alone enough to confirm the provenance of the piece, the carpet's true origin remains unknown.
Below is the carpet in its current state as it can be viewed in The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg, Russia.