Israeli Archeologists Unearth Valued Purple Dye From Period of Kings David and Solomon
In a remarkable discovery by Israeli archeologists this week, a valuable purple dye dating back to the Davidian period of ancient Israel was found on a piece of fabric during excavations at a site in Timna, about 137 miles south of Jerusalem.
The dye is mentioned in Biblical verses that mention the pomp and style in the courts of King David — who reigned during approximately 1000 BCE — and his son King Solomon, who built the First Temple in Jerusalem.
A passage from the Song of Songs (3:9-10) reads: “King Solomon made for himself the carriage; he made it of wood from Lebanon. Its posts he made of silver, its base of gold. Its seat was upholstered with purple, its interior inlaid with love.”
Israel Antiquities Authority expert Dr. Naama Sukenik called it a “very exciting and important discovery”.
“In antiquity, purple attire was associated with the nobility, with priests, and of course with royalty,” Sukenik told the BBC.
“The gorgeous shade of the purple, the fact that it does not fade, and the difficulty in producing the dye, which is found in minute quantities in the body of molluscs, all made it the most highly valued of the dyes, which often cost more than gold,” she explained.
The material containing the dye was found during a dig at a site known as Slaves’ Hill.
“The color immediately attracted our attention, but we found it hard to believe that we had found true purple from such an ancient period,” said Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University’s Archaeology Department.
Carbon-dating of the fragment separately confirmed that it came from about 1,000 BCE — the same period when David is said to have reigned.