Three Millennia Ago, an Israelite King Conquered a Phoenician Dye Factory on the Mediterranean Coast

The Hebrew Bible makes frequent mention of argaman, wool dyed purple with a specific substance, as a key material for the priestly vestments, the tabernacle, and other items of high status. In ancient Rome, the same dye, imported from the Levant, was a symbol of royalty. Investigating an ancient site in the city of Haifa, Israeli archaeologists believe they have discovered an ancient factory for the pigment’s production:

The purple dye is created from a gland found in three kinds of sea snails, commonly called rock snails or murex, found along Israel’s coast. The dye likely created both the argaman (purple) and t’khelet (blue) referred to in the Hebrew Bible. The color is so strong that it can stay fixed for thousands of years, meaning dyed fibers from 3,000 years ago maintain their vibrant hue.

The dye factory is located at Tel Shiqmona on the southern end of Haifa’s coast. The settlement remains had previously confounded archaeologists: it was first settled in the Bronze Age, around 1500 BCE, but was quite small compared to other settlements at the time. It was also located far from agricultural lands and next to an area of rocky coast that was unlikely to be useful for maritime trade.

More recent excavations over the past five years . . . found evidence of Israelite settlement that led them to believe that the site was conquered by the kingdom of Israel [from the Phoenicians] around the mid-9th century BCE. Around the time the biblical King Ahab ascended the throne, the dye factory was destroyed and rebuilt. The archaeologists found Phoenician pottery from after the rebuild, showing that Phoenicians were likely still living there. They also uncovered Israelite-style fortified walls, Israelite seals, and four-room houses that were common to Israelite architecture at the time.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Phoenicia, T'khelet

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy