Royal Purple Fabric From King David’s Era Discovered

“Send me, therefore, a craftsman who is skilled in engraving to work with … purple.”
Wool fibers dyed with Royal Purple, ~1000 BCE, Timna Valley, Israel
photo by Dafna Gazit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Excavations at the ancient copper mines in Timna have unearthed a trove of significant discoveries relating to the time of the biblical kings David and Solomon. The latest discovery, published last month in the Plos One Journal, revealed fragments of “royal purple” fabric unearthed among the refuse of the miners.

Royal purple, known as argamon in the Hebrew Bible, was one of the precious shellfish-derived dyes that colored the tabernacle, temple, and the finest clothing of the biblical court. Now, for the first time, this dye has been found from the time of David—predating by 1,000 years previously discovered samples.

On today’s podcast, host Brent Nagtegaal discusses the stunning discovery in light of Phoenician dye production on the Mediterranean coast, and the biblical description of David’s rule over the Edomite territory in which the Timna mines are located.

Show Notes

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Archaeology Confirms Biblical Account of Edomite Statehood

Jpost interview with Prof. Erez Ben Yosef

Study: Early evidence of royal purple-dyed textile from Timna Valley (Israel)