Silk has been used by humans since ancient times, but Egypt was introduced to silk through trade during the Ptolemaic period, where it became the most important good in Alexandria.
During the Roman era, silk was woven locally in Egypt, although under the tight control of Roman emperors. Their decrees of AD 369, 406, and 424 limited the silk industry to the needs of the emperor's palace. The decree of AD 438 prohibited weaving silk in Alexandria.
The Justinian Codes declared that purple silk was an imperial fabric, to be manufactured only in imperial works. The reason behind these restrictions was probably the scarcity and high cost of raw silk. It might also be a result of the tense political relationship between the Byzantine Empire and Persia in addition to the fact that Christian clergymen considered silk inappropriate for men to wear.