First Definitive Proof of Ancient Blue Dye ‘Tekhelet’ Discovered in Israel

December 31, 2013 6:44 pm 3 comments

Tekhelet tying methods on display at the Ptil Tekhelet conference in Jerusalem, where the first definitive proof of 'tekhelet' in Israel was revealed. Photo: Ptil Tekhelet.

JNS.org - The first definitive proof of production of the ancient blue dye “tekhelet” in Israel was revealed during an Israel Antiquities Authority presentation at a Jerusalem conference.

Derived from shellfish, tekhelet is mentioned in the Torah as the dye used in the clothing of the High Priest in the Jerusalem Temple, as well as being mixed in with white in the fringes of the tzitzit garment. But the origins of tekhelet were lost after the Roman exile, and most tzitzit fringes today are colored exclusively white. Over the past century, experts—including the late Chief Rabbi Dr. Isaac Herzog—have attempted to rediscover the origins of the dye, tracing it to the hillazon snail.

“Until now, our most important discovery had been the piles and piles of murex trunculus (hillazon snail) shells from the area, which served as a silent testimony to the presence of an ancient dyeing industry in Israel,” said Dr. Naama Sukenik, a researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“But this newest finding from the times of Bar Kokhba—sky blue fabric from the Dead Sea region—is definitive proof of both a colored fabrics trade and strict adherence to the biblical commandment of tekhelet in ancient Israel,” Sukenik said.

The new evidence was presented at the “100 Years to Tekhelet Research” conference sponsored by Ptil Tekhelet, which was attended by more than 350 scientists, academics, and rabbinic scholars.

3 Comments

  • It is common knowledge that murex was used for dyeing Argaman (purple), so “piles and piles of murex trunculus (hillazon snail) shells” is an indication of an ancient dyeing industry in Israel, but is not connected to using Murex for tekhelet on tzitzit.

    The sample that Naama Sukenik presented was not a talit with tekhelt tzitzit.

    Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is correct, the Radziner rebbe pioneered the recovery of tekhelet for our time and his chilazon may indeed be the authentic chilazon.

  • In his book ” Phoenicia, History of a Civilization ” George Rawlinson wrote several pages about using the Murex trunculus and the Buccinum lapillus snails to make blue and purple dyes by the Phoenicians. He wrote the book in…1889.

  • Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

    You need to mention the work of Rabbi Gershon Henoch Lajner, the Radziner rebbe who pioneered the recovery of techelet for our time

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the moral of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry has [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish History Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    Why the Holocaust Occurred in Germany, and Why So Few Resisted (REVIEW)

    It’s hard to make a new contribution to the field of Holocaust studies,  but German historian Götz Aly accomplishes just that in Why the Germans, Why the Jews? His premise is that the origins of the Holocaust were rooted in the specific anti-Semitism found in Germany in the decades and centuries before World War II. Aly (who is not Jewish) seeks to prove his theory by studying only pre-Holocaust history, and tracing how the German people’s envy and hatred of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    Looking at Anti-Israel Celebrities and Their Brands

    JNS.org – During the current conflict in Gaza a number of celebrities have voiced their opinions in support of either the Israeli or Palestinian positions. But others—be it during Operation Protective Edge or at other times—have gone further than simply supporting the Palestinians by actively supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, making false accusations about the Jewish state, ignoring Israel’s position on the conflict, or justifying the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. Many of these [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    Israeli UFC Fighter Returns to Jewish State to Rejoin IDF

    JNS.org – Days after winning his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight bout against Steven Siler on July 26, Israeli-born mixed martial arts competitor Noad Lahat boarded a plane for his native country, choosing to temporarily exit UFC’s octagonal cage to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a paratrooper for its operation against Hamas in Gaza. Except he didn’t actually consider it a choice. “When [our] home is in danger, there is no other way for us [but to serve [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    Why We Should Invest in Jewish Children

    JNS.org – My wife Suzy and I will never forget our wedding day. It was not just the uplifting ceremony and beautiful party that left an indelible mark. Some life-altering advice that we received from one of our guests informed and shaped our lives from that day forward. My high school teacher, Rabbi Moshe Yagid, pulled us aside just before the chuppah and challenged us to choose one mitzvah that would be the foundation of our marriage and our lives. He explained [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.