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3,000-Year-Old Textile Fragments Date Back To King Solomon's Reign Unearthed

First Posted: Jul 04, 2017 04:29 AM EDT
Timna: Israel's Ancient Copper Mines
The 3,000-year-old textile fragments were found in the Timna Valley of Israel's Arava desert.
(Photo : Jewish National Fund/YouTube screenshot)

A 3,000-year-old fabric dye has been found at the Timna Valley of Israel's Arava desert, which is a significant smelting and mining site to produce copper. The dozens of textile fragments dated back to King Solomon's reign, in the Iron Age during 11th to 10th centuries BCE.

The descriptions of the discovery were described in the journal PLOS ONE. The work was led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, a professor at TAU's Department of Archaeology, and Dr. Naama Sukenik of the Israel Antiquities Authority in collaboration with a research team from Bar-Ilan University.

The discovered old fabric dye is the earliest evidence of the use of a plant-based dye in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean. The researchers theorized that the metalworkers wore colorful clothing as a symbol of their high status.

Breaking Israel News reports that the examination of the dyes indicates the use of two main plants. The first plant is the madder whose roots delivered the red dye. The second plant is the woad that is used to create indigotin, which is the blue dye. These plants are the best known plant dyes in ancient times.

Dr. Ben-Yosef stated that these beautiful masterpieces of weaving and dyeing are the first evidence of industrial dyeing at the time and of wash-resistant color on textile that supports the idea of the powerful Edomite Kingdom in Timna at the time. He further said that it is evident that there was a dominant elite in this society that took pains to dress according to their class and had the means to engage in long-distance trade to transport these textiles -- and other materials and resources -- to the desert, as Realm of History noted.

The archaeologists explain that the discovered textiles indicate that metalworkers that were operating the smelting furnaces might be members of the upper class. They were the symbol of high status and typically wore colored garments, the archaeologists added. 

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