Archaeology, purple fabrics found in the Timna Valley, Israel

Date to 3,000 years ago, to time of King David and Solomon

28 January, 15:42

    A view of Timna's archaeological complex in Israel A view of Timna's archaeological complex in Israel

    TEL AVIV - Fibres of fabrics coloured with royal purple from 3,000 years ago, dating to the time of King David and Solomon, were found in a wool production factory in the Timna Valley in Israel.

    Leading Israeli archaeologists hailed the discovery as important. It was made during recent excavations in the ancient bronze district in the Timna Valley, in the Negev not far from Eilat, the extreme point of the country.

    Timna is an exceptional archaeological complex of great natural beauty.

    The rare colour, a symbol of royal sacredness and obtained from a mollusk in the Mediterranean, was found in some fibres and in a tassel that date, according to radiocarbon analysis, to approximately 1,000 years before Christ, corresponding to the reigns of David and Solomon.

    Royal purple, the colour found in the fibres and tassel, is often mentioned in the Bible and in Jewish and Christian contexts, and this is the first time it has been found in Israel and the Southern Levant.

    "This is an important discovery," said Naama Sukenik of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

    "It is the first piece of purple-coloured fabric ever found from the times of David and Solomon. In antiquity, purple was associated with nobility, priests, and naturally kings. The stupendous tone of the purple colour, the fact that it doesn't fade, and the difficulty in producing it, giving the minimum quantities present in the organism of mollusks, made it often more costly than gold," Sukenik said.

    "Now for the first time, we have direct evidence of fabrics of this colour that have been preserved for 3,000 years".

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