MembersUncovered: Royal Purple Cloth From King David’s Time

In biblical times, wealth and power were demonstrated through the color of one’s clothes

By David Lazarus | | Topics: archaeology, history, Bible
Photo: Doron Horowitz/Flash90

A piece of purple cloth dating back to King David has been found. The hot dry climate of the Arava Desert just north of Eilat on the Red Sea preserved this extraordinary find for over 3,000 years at Timna, an ancient copper mine dating back to the days of the Egyptian pharaohs.

“This is the first time we’ve ever found a piece of clothing from the times of David and Solomon dyed with the costly purple coloring that was considered more valuable than gold,” reported Naama Sukenik of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The purple dye used in the fabric is produced from murex snails transported from the Mediterranean Sea to Timna. It takes thousands of them to make just one gram of the dye. The process of producing the royal purple textiles – from hunting the large quantities of snails required for producing the precious droplets of dye to the precise color needed for the purple robes – was complex and strenuous. The price for these dazzling colors was equally stunning. An entire robe would require hundreds of thousands...

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