Ancient Dyes Are Discovered in Southern Israel

Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of fragments of ancient textiles in the Timna valley near the southern Israeli city of Eilat. Because the fragments—dating back to the 10th century BCE, the putative time of Solomon—are so well preserved, the dyes used by their manufacturers can be detected. Daniel K. Eisenbud writes:

Researchers from a joint study by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), Tel Aviv University, and Bar-Ilan University say the finds provide the earliest evidence of a plant-based dye in Israel. . . . According to the IAA, the excavations, directed by Erez Ben-Yosef, recovered dozens of fragments of 3,000-year-old textiles, which were preserved due to the region’s extremely arid climatic conditions.

“The textiles date to King Solomon’s reign, in the Iron Age [11th-10th centuries BCE], and some are decorated with a red-and-blue-bands pattern,” he said. “These are the earliest examples to have been found in the country and in the Levant [the eastern Mediterranean] of the remains of plant-based dyes. . . .

“Upon analysis, the data indicated the use of two main plants: madder, whose roots provided a red dye, and indigotin, probably produced from woad, which was used as a blue dye in a long and complex process involving reduction and oxidization that lasted a number of days,” he said. . . . . The textiles recovered in Timna, he said, were colored with true dye, which is characterized by a chemical bond between dye and fiber, attesting to professional knowledge and skill in the art of dyeing during this period.

[T]he colored woolen textiles came as a surprise to the researchers, since during the Iron Age Timna was principally an important smelting and mining site for the production of copper.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy