There’s gotta be a ‘dyed in the wool’ joke in here somewhere!!!
Rich in hue and denoting royalty, power and wealth, purple dye has a prized status that is drawn from its exclusivity and the costs that go into producing it.
Now, researchers in Israel have for the first time found evidence of fabric dyed with “royal purple” dating back 3,000 years to the reigns of kings David and Solomon.
Since 2013, a team of archaeologists has been working in the Timna Valley, an ancient copper production district in southern Israel. There they discovered remnants of woven fabric, a tassel and wool fibres dyed with royal purple.
Tests on the artefacts indicated they dated to 1,000 BC – the time of David and Solomon’s biblical monarchies in Jerusalem.
True purple – or argaman – was found in tiny quantities in the bodies of three types of mollusc found in the Mediterranean. Temple priests, David and Solomon, and Jesus of Nazareth are all described as having worn clothing dyed with purple, said the report in the PLOS ONE journal.
Professor Erez Ben-Yosef from the archaeology department at Tel Aviv University, who worked on the study, said: “As a result of the region’s extremely dry climate, we are able to recover organic materials such as textile, cords and leather from the Iron Age, from the time of David and Solomon, providing us with a unique glimpse into life in biblical times.
“The colour immediately attracted our attention, but we found it hard to believe that we had found true purple from such an ancient period.”Professor Erez Ben-Yosef
Tel Aviv University
Dr Naama Sukenik, a curator at the Israel Antiquities Authority said: “Until the current discovery, we had only encountered mollusc-shell waste and potsherds with patches of dye, which provided evidence of the purple industry in the Iron Age.
“Now, for the first time, we have direct evidence of the dyed fabrics themselves.”