Researchers uncovered the scraps of a frayed purple cloth that dates back to the era of King David and King Solomon, or approximately 3,000 years ago.
Uncovered in Isreal, the cloth is the remnants of woven wool fabric that had been dyed the color of royal purple. It was located in the Timna Valley, a copper production district of King Solomon’s day. Radiocarbon testing confirmed the samples dated to 1000 BC.
The specific color of the fabric, called “true” or “Tyrian” purple, makes it a luxury item of the day. Those who wore this color were the Timna valley, a copper production district of King Solomon’s day. The dying process took several days to occur and was sourced from a few kinds of mollusks in the Mediterranean Sea.
Naama Sukenik said the discovery was “very exciting and important.” She is the curator of organic finds at the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“This is the first piece of textile ever found from the time of David and Solomon that is dyed with the prestigious purple dye,” she said.
“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 mollusks, all made it the most highly-valued of the dyes, which often cost more than gold.
These excavations of the Timna sites have been ongoing since 2013.