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An Iron Age purple dye production site has been identified at Tel Shikmona. The site, located just south of Haifa, was excavated from 1963-1977, but the findings were never comprehensively published. Recently, two scholars from the University of Haifa were granted access to hundreds of pottery vessels and shards from these excavations. They've discovered the largest collection of Cypriot "black-on-red ware" ever found outside of the island of Cyprus, testifying to the importance of the Phoenician culture at the site. They've also encountered an unusually large number of pottery shards with purple dye stains still visible, as well as spindle whorls and loom weights from a local textile industry. A chemical analysis of the shards has demonstrated that the stains are from marine snails. The researchers believe that Tel Shikmona was a purple dye production site, which explains why the settlement was situated on a rocky coastline unsuitable for boats, and in an area with little agricultural land. It may be that Tel Shikmona was in its out-of-the-way location because murex snails could be harvested by the thousands nearby to support their purple dye production. The scholars from the University of Haifa believe Tel Shikmona is the first purple dye production site to be discovered in Iron Age Phoenicia.

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