Precious Materials in Antiquity


Mark Cartwright
published on 13 November 2018

Certain materials have always been precious such as gold for its lustre, incorruptibility, and ease to work but some ancient cultures often gave a very high value to more unusual materials. The Romans loved Tyrian purple dye, the Incas prized fine textiles above all, and for the Chinese jade was extra special and even had associations of immortality. This collection looks at some of those precious materials, why they were revered by the ancients and what their craftspeople did with them.

Such was the value given to fine textiles that the Incas often required its production as tribute or tax from conquered peoples. To this end, specific quantities of wool or cotton were given to subject weavers each year so that they might produce a calculated quantity of textiles.



3D Images

Subscribe to this author

About the Author

Mark Cartwright
Mark is a full-time writer, researcher, historian, and editor. Special interests include art, architecture, and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share. He holds an MA in Political Philosophy and is the WHE Publishing Director.

Free for the World, Supported by You

World History Encyclopedia is a non-profit organization. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide.

Become a Member