A Biblical-Era Textile Collection Discovered in Southern Israel

Feb. 26 2016

Archaeologists excavating the Timna copper mines in the southern tip of Israel have found an unprecedented collection of fabrics thought to date back to the beginning of the first millennium BCE. Raoul Wootliff writes:

“No textiles from this period have ever been found at excavation sites like Jerusalem, Megiddo, and Hazor,” [the excavation’s director, Erez] Ben-Yosef said. “We found fragments of textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes, and cords.” The pieces of fabric, some only 5 x 5 centimeters in size, vary in color, weaving technique, and ornamentation. . . .

The Timna valley—now a national park—was a copper-production district with thousands of mines and dozens of smelting sites. . . . The artifacts were dated to the 10th century BCE—the time during which, according to the Bible, King Solomon ruled ancient Israel.

Also found from the same period—as confirmed by radiocarbon dating—were unprecedented quantities of seeds from the biblical “seven species,” the two grains and five fruits [listed by the Bible as the distinguishing crops of] the land of Israel. The mines are believed to have been operated by the semi-nomadic early Edomites, and the discoveries also offer insight into their complex society.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Edomites, History & Ideas, King Solomon


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount