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David and Solomon era textiles found in Israel
29
Feb '16
Courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority
Courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority
In a stunning discovery, a Timna excavation team from Tel Aviv University has uncovered an extensive fabric collection. This is the first discovery of textiles dating from the era of David and Solomon, and sheds new light on the historical fashions of the Holy Land, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on its website.

The ancient copper mines in Timna are located deep in Israel's Arava Valley and are believed by some to be the site of King Solomon's mines. The arid conditions of the mines have seen the remarkable preservation of 3,000-year-old organic materials, including seeds, leather and fabric, and other extremely rare artifacts that provide a unique window into the culture and practices of this period.

A Timna excavation team from Tel Aviv University led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef has uncovered an extensive fabric collection of diverse color, design and origin. This is the first discovery of textiles dating from the era of David and Solomon, and sheds new light on the historical fashions of the Holy Land. The textiles also offer insight into the complex society of the early Edomites, the semi-nomadic people believed to have operated the mines at Timna. The tiny pieces of fabric, some only 5 x 5 centimeters in size, vary in color, weaving technique and ornamentation, the Ministry said.

"Some of these fabrics resemble textiles only known from the Roman era," said Dr. Orit Shamir, a senior researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority, who led the study of the fabrics themselves.

The rare preservation of organic material opens new research opportunities, which until now were lacking in Biblical sites. As the only fabrics from that period discovered throughout the southern Levant, they are the closest examples we have of how people dressed in the time of David and Solomon. "No textiles have ever been found at excavation sites like Jerusalem, Megiddo and Hazor, so this provides a unique window into an entire aspect of life from which we've never had physical evidence before," Dr. Ben-Yosef said. "We found fragments of textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords."

“The wide variety of fabrics also provides new and important information about the Edomites, who, according to the Bible, fought with the Kingdom of Israel. We found simply woven, elaborately decorated fabrics worn by the upper echelon of their stratified society. Luxury grade fabric adorned the highly skilled, highly respected craftsmen managing the copper furnaces. They were responsible for smelting the copper, which was a very complicated process."

Copper was used to produce tools and weapons and was the most valuable resource in ancient societies. Its production required many levels of expertise. Miners in ancient Timna may have been slaves or prisoners - theirs was a simple task performed under difficult conditions. But the act of smelting, of turning stone into metal, required an enormous amount of skill and organization. The smelter had to manage some 30 to 40 variables in order to produce the coveted copper ingots.


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