Friday, January 29, 2021

Solomonic-era purple cloth excavated in Timna Valley

SARTORIAL ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient cloth with Bible’s purple dye found in Israel, dated to King David’s era. 3 scraps from 1,000 BCE, earliest such finds in region, point to Edomite kingdom described in Bible; vibrant and lasting ‘royal’ dye, mark of the elite, comes from murex sea snails (Amanda Borschel-Dan, Times of Israel).

If you like technical things, the underlying article at Plos One is: Early evidence of royal purple dyed textile from Timna Valley (Israel).
Naama Sukenik , David Iluz, Zohar Amar, Alexander Varvak, Orit Shamir, Erez Ben-Yosef
Published: January 28, 2021

PaleoJudaica posts involving Tyrian purple dye are here, here, here, and here. And for the Israelite telekhet dye, also made from the murex snail, see here and links.

The Plos One article suggests that the fragments may have come from posh clothing. A couple of posts on clothing in ancient Israel are here and here. (Timna was Edomite, but the sartorial conventions would have been similar, at least to us.)

This discovery is further proof that delicate organic artifacts from as far back as the tenth century BCE can survive to the present in the right climate. The Timna Valley has the right climate. So does Megiddo.

Parchment and papyrus scrolls are delicate organic artifacts. If these cloth fragments can survive with their dye intact, I see no reasons why still-readable scroll fragments could not survive in the same environment. We would have to be lucky for them to survive and for us to find them. But the right conditions exist.

I have further thoughts on this point here and links and here (on the Timna Valley excavation) and here and here (on Megiddo).

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