Purple fabrics mentioned in the Bible were found in the Timna Valley in southern Israel, a a reflection of the wealth of the inhabitants of the region during the reigns of David and Solomon.
The purple-dyed pieces were discovered during archaeological excavations in Timna, a former copper production center, the Israel Antiquities Authority (AIA) said in a joint statement with the universities of Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan.
“This is the first time that fabrics dyed purple and from the Iron Age have been discovered in Israel and the Mediterranean Levant”, according to the statement.
Radiocarbon dating makes it possible to establish that fibers are about 1,000 years before our era, that is, from the time of David and Solomon’s reign according to the Bible, says the text.
“In ancient times, purple garments were associated with nobility, priests and, of course, royalty,” explains Naama Sukenik, curator of the AIA.
” The magnificent violet hue, the fact that it does not fade and the difficulty in producing this dye, which is found in tiny amounts in the bodies of small mollusks” make the royal purple a prestigious color that “used to be more expensive than gold”, highlights the researcher.
Until now, only mollusc shells and ceramics with purple spots had been discovered, which indicated the existence of the purple dye industry.
“This is the first time that we have direct evidence of fabrics dyed and preserved for 3,000 years,” insists Sukenik.
For Professor Erez Ben-Yosef, from the Department of Archeology at the University of Tel Aviv, these findings allow to deepen the knowledge about the kingdom of Edom, populated by nomadic tribes, on the southern limit of the kingdom of Israel.
” The new findings reinforce our hypothesis that there was an elite in Timna, showing that it was a stratified society,” he said.
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