Spindle and Bow


Bevis Longstreth's novel tells a story of love, adventure and the transcendent power of art at the dawning of civilization. Set in 5th Century BC, this human drama spans some 3,000 miles, from the ancient city of Sardis at the western edge of the Persian Empire in Anatolia to the Sycthian village of Pazyryk in the Altai Mountains of southwestern Siberia. Rachel, a young Sardian Jew, is a weaver of consummate skill in the royal workshop of Cyrus the Younger, brother of Artaxerxes II, King of Persia. Amid the opulence of the Sardian Court, she meets Targitus, a Scythian prince come west to learn the closely kept secrets of gold purification. What unfolds is the imaginative braiding of two lives, thrown together by chance, but resulting in the creation of the oldest known pile carpet in existence, preserved for future generations in a frozen tomb in the Altai Mountains. The carpet, now hanging in St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum, is a towering achievement in art and weaving, unsurpassed by textiles of later eras.