Carpet making is one of the oldest arts in Turkmenistan and the region. For a Turkmen, carpet making has the same importance as the pyramids do for Egypt. Archaeological data places carpet making on the territory of Turkmenistan as early as the 6th century B.C. The remains of a carpet which archaeologists found in 1940's at Altai is 2500 years old. Research shows that the design is very similar to the carpets of today. It took centuries for these designs to develop and the decoration of the carpets is extremely original, reflecting stylized articles of the real world surrounding nomadic livestock-breeders. Ornaments are geometric and love of deep, rich red is an artistic tradition of the carpets. The art of carpet weaving was passed from generation to generation and today one can single out several types of Turkmen carpets, each having individual ornamentation. The five traditional designs form part of the country's state emblem and flag. For Turkmen nomads, the carpets were extremely important, covering wagon floors and forming collapsible walls, protecting them from the cold. Turkmen carpets have centuries-old history. They are mentioned in Zoroastrian Avesta, in works of Homer and Herodot, in ancient Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, in Shahnameh by Ferdousi, in One thousand and one nights and other ancient and medieval writings. Italian traveler Marco Polo referred to Turkmen carpets as the most thin and beautiful handicrafts. Turkmen carpets have been also represented in pictures of the talian Renaissance artists. Today, carpet making has become a professional art. Like the Turkmen ancestors, natural dyes and Sargin sheep wool (the smoothest to the touch) are still used. The 15 carpet making factories employ about 10,000 people and put out 41,000 square meters of carpets a year.