Most people think of carpeting as a modern invention, despite what we may have seen on episodes of The Flintstones—but it turns out those old retro cartoon shows may have gotten a few things right! Carpeting and floor coverings of all kinds go back further than you’d think, and the journey from where it all began to where we’ve ended up is a fascinating one that we’d like to share with you today!
A Look at How Carpet Has Changed Through the Years
Although movies and television often depict floors in early history as being packed dirt or stone or sometimes wood, there is established evidence of floor coverings that would be typically recognized as carpets or rugs by the average modern viewer. For example, the Pazyryk carpet, a knotted rug discovered in an ice-filled tomb in outer Mongolia, dates back to 464 BCE. Further back, dated to 1480 BCE, is an Egyptian fresco that depicts, among other things, a handloom used for weaving; it’s reasonable to speculate that a society familiar with weaving would have used that skill to fashion various floor coverings.
The earliest evidence of rugs dates back to 6000 BCE, in the form of evidence that goats and sheep were sheared of their wool, which was then spun into yarn and woven into something that could be used as floor coverings.
Early American Carpeting
Moving forward in history to 1800s America, the carpet industry was founded in 1791 with the first woven carpet mill in Philadelphia. Others soon opened in New England and New Jersey. In 1839, the industry was revolutionized by the invention of the first power loom. By the 1870s, there were further improvements on the loom and several competing carpet manufacturers were established in the American colonies.
Carpet factories were big business, some of them employing as many as sixteen hundred people, and during World War I, carpet looms were converted to make supplies for the war effort, and then converted back once the war ended. By the 1930s, there were even more advances in loom technology, including mechanized looms, which reduced the need for human operators, increased the accuracy of the weaving, and lowered cost due to having fewer employees.
Cotton was the fiber used in carpeting and rugs until 1954 when wool and manmade fibers began to be introduced, and this allowed for the difference between older carpet styles and the newer, more modern carpet styles of the past 60 years.
Modern Rugs and Carpets
Despite the more recent focus on all natural products, synthetic carpet fibers allow for more durability, easier cleaning, and a better overall product. From the fabulous polyester and olefin shag carpets of the 1960s and 70s in iconic colors like harvest gold and avocado green to the starkly patterned area rugs made from carpet scraps and Millennial pink carpets fashioned from recycled plastic of the current decade, embracing synthetic fibers allow for advantages natural cotton and wool can’t match.
Contact Windows Floors & Décor for a free, in-home consultation on your next custom carpeting service needs.