Fabric from the Time of King David Stained with the Ancient World’s Most Precious Dye

Jan. 29 2021

In describing the vestments and curtains used in the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Hebrew Bible often mentions wool dyed purple using a rarefied pigment produced from the murex snail. Archaeologists recently confirmed that three textile scraps they found in the Timna Valley, near Israel’s southern tip, were colored with this particular dye. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The tiny, vibrantly colored Iron Age cloth pieces are the earliest evidence of this precious dye in the entire southern Levant and shed new light on the early Edomite kingdom and Israelite kingdoms 3,000 years ago—a period when the Bible details the conquering of the Edomites by King David.

Until now, the earliest textile evidence of the royal purple dye dated to at least 1,000 years later in the Roman period, when it was highly valued. [Tel Aviv University’s] Erez Ben-Yosef explained that Timna is first and foremost known for its copper, which was mined by residents of the ancient Land of Israel as early as the 5th millennium BCE, going all the way to the early Islamic period some 1,400 years ago. Even recently, he said, the nascent state of Israel had a small factory that produced copper there.

The dry climatic conditions at Timna, deep in the Arava desert, allow for the unusually good preservation of organic materials, similar to the much later Roman-era textile and leather finds discovered in the caves of the Judean desert and at Masada.

What is noteworthy in Timna, said Ben-Yosef, is that the “big story” is related to the early Iron Age. “We’re talking about the 11th to the 9th centuries BCE, and it is a very debated period in the history of the land”—the period of the rise of the biblical kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Davidic monarchy, Edomites, Temple


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