Pietro della Valle, a Roman who travelled to Cyprus from Venice, wrote of the special stone of Amianthus, found on the island:
Signer Cicach gave me a piece of Amianthus, the stone which can be spun into thread, and from which the ancients made a cloth said to be incombustible, which was cleaned by fire like other cloth by water. Of it they made the shrouds in which they burned dead bodies, so that the human ashes should not be mixed with those of the fuel, but remain by themselves within the cloth, which was not consumed. No one knows now how to make the cloth or the thread ; still you can clearly see a white substance like cotton detach itself from the stone, and this might be spun. The stone itself while intact is a darkish green, or nearly black, but lustrous, almost like talc: when it is broken the filaments come out white. In the laboratory of Ferrante Imperato of Naples, a man of most curious learning, among the innumerable simples and strange things he had collected I remember seeing both the stone and the cloth woven from it.