A new paper published in the Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv suggests that the Israelites conquered Tel Shiqmona in southern Haifa in the ninth century BC in order to control the lucrative purple dye production at the site. During the Late Iron IIA period, sometime during Omride Dynasty, the dye factory was destroyed and rebuilt and the town was fortified with Israelite-style casemate walls. Archaeologists also unearthed four-room houses from that time, which are often seen as indicative of an Israelite site. However, they also found that the pottery remained Phoenician in style. All of this led the authors of the paper to suggest that one of the Omride kings of Israel captured the city for economic reasons, but that the Israelites lacked the knowledge of the production of purple dye, and therefore engaged the Phoenicians, either by coercion or cooperation, to continue the operation. Purple dye, which comes from murex sea snails, was important for the clothing of royalty and priests, as well as for the textiles associated with the tabernacle and temple.
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