Scholars have identified “argaman” royal purple dye on three pieces of ancient fabric discovered at Slaves Hill, an ancient copper smelting camp in the Timna Valley. The results of their study were published in a recent article in the journal PLOS One entitled, “Early evidence of royal purple dyed textile from Timna Valley (Israel).” The dry conditions at Timna preserved the clothe, which was dated using Carbon-14 to 1000 BC. Researchers tested the textiles at the Bar Ilan University laboratory using High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis, which identified molecules of 6-monobromoindigotin and 6,6-dibromoindigotin, unique to murex sea snails. Dye from murex snails was used in ancient times to produce the rich color, also known as Tyrian purple, which was highly-prized among elite and royals. This purple dye, known in the Hebrew Bible as “argaman” is mentioned in numerous passages, and is associated with the Tabernacle (Ex 26:1; 27:16) and royalty (Sg 3:10; Est 1:6). The authors of the study suggest that this discovery will shed new light on the fashions of the elite and royalty in the early Edomite and Israelite kingdoms 3000-years ago.
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