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Groundbreaking research from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University recently revealed remnants of cloth from the Timna area, painted in the color of royal crimson and dating to the time of Kings David and Solomon, about 3,000 years ago.
The study was carried out under the leadership of Dr. Naama Suknik of the Antiquities Authority and Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef of the Department of Archeology by Yaakov M. Alkov at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Prof. Zahar Amar, Dr. David Iluz, Dr. Alex y Rawak from Bar Ilan University and Dr. Orit Shamir from the Antiquities Authority.
The surprising findings are already published in the prestigious journal PLOS ONE.
This is a very exciting and important discovery: this is the first time that an Iron Age piece of cloth, painted with the prestigious crimson, they produced from various snails in the Mediterranean.
“In ancient times, crimson clothing was attributed to aristocrats, priests and, of course, kings,” explains Dr. Naama Sukenik, curator of organic finds at the Israel Antiquities Authority, “most of which were priced at often higher than that of gold. Until the current discovery, we only knew of snail remains and paint-stained pottery shards, which were evidence of the crimson industry in the Iron Age, but this is the first time we have direct evidence of the dyed fabrics themselves, which have been preserved for about 3,000 years."
Prof. Erez Ben Yosef says that the extreme preservation of organic materials must be attributed to the extreme dryness in the Timna area. "We also managed to find organic materials such as fabrics, ropes and furs from the Iron Age, the days of David and Solomon, a collection that gives us a unique insight into life in Biblical times. Even if we excavate another hundred years in Jerusalem, there are no fabrics from 3,000 years ago."
Today, most researchers accept that the two prestigious colors, crimson and light blue, were produced from the crimson snail under different conditions of light exposure. On exposure to light the blue hue is obtained, while without exposure the crimson hue is obtained. These colors are often mentioned side by side in sources, and both carry symbolic and religious significance to this day. The temple priests, David and Solomon, the Christian Jesus, all wore, according to the narrator, robes dyed crimson.
Analytical tests carried out in the laboratories of Bar Ilan University, along with color reproductions carried out by Prof. Zohar Amar and Dr. Naama Sukenik, may indicate the species they used to dye the Timna fabrics and the shades they wanted to achieve. . of snails (which Italians eat) and extracted from their color glands a material that was used in hundreds of attempts to recreate early painting. "Practical work took us back thousands of years," says Professor Amar, The Prestigious Blue. "
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Photo: Dafna Gazit, Antiquities Authority. Chai Ashkenazi; courtesy of Tel Aviv University's Timna Excavation Project

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