For the first time, rare evidence has been found of fabric dyed with royal purple dating from the time of King David and King Solomon.
While examining the colored textiles from Timna Valley – an ancient copper production district in southern Israel – in a study that has lasted several years, the researchers were surprised to find remnants of woven fabric, a tassel and fibers of wool dyed with royal purple. Direct radiocarbon dating confirms that the finds date from approximately 1000 BCE, corresponding to the biblical monarchies of David and Solomon in Jerusalem. The dye, which is produced from species of mollusk found in the Mediterranean, over 300 km from Timna, is often mentioned in the Bible and appears in various Jewish and Christian contexts. This is the first time that purple-dyed Iron Age textiles have been found in Israel, or indeed throughout the Levant. The research was carried out by Dr. Naama Sukenik from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef, from the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Prof. Zohar Amar, Dr. David Iluz and Dr. Alexander Varvak from Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Orit Shamir from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The unexpected finds are being published today in the prestigious PLOS ONE journal.
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