Archaeologists excavating in the Timna Valley near Eilat have discovered fabric that was dyed red and blue. This is the first time that such a colored clothing has been discovered from this ancient period. The Times of Israel provides a summary of a journal article and includes some photographs and a video.
Since 2013, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University has directed excavations in the Timna Valley where his team has found textiles dating back to the Iron Age (11-10 centuries BCE). On some of the fragments, there is a decorative pattern of red and blue bands.
In an article published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, the researchers hypothesize that the metalworkers, considered fine craftsmen, “were probably entitled to wear colorful clothing as a mark of their high status.”
According to Ben-Yosef and the IAA’s Dr. Naama Sukenik, the findings indicate that the society at Timna, identified with the Kingdom of Edom, was hierarchical and included an upper class that had access to colorful, prestigious textiles.
The concept of highly prized, skilled laborers flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which had supposed that slaves had largely manned the isolated copper mines.
Personally I think the speculation about the identification of the workers is unwarranted, given that we have essentially nothing to compare this with given the lack of preservation of perishable materials in the rest of Israel. And if the dating to the 10th century is correct, then this area was likely under the control of Israel, not Edom (2 Sam 8:14; 1 Kgs 9:26; 2 Chr 8:17). But one can certainly conclude that the workers here had access to a good shopping mall.
The official press release is posted here. The AFTAU has issued a press release here. Some high-res photos are available here.
HT: Joseph Lauer
“Slaves’ Hill” in Timna Valley;
“Solomon’s Pillars” is located on the left
The massive “Spring Tower” built over Jerusalem’s Gihon Spring was originally dated by archaeologists to the Middle Bronze Age. A new study, however, indicates that the fortifications were constructed in the 9th century BC, the time when Jerusalem was ruled by Jehoshaphat and Joash. The new dating is based on radiocarbon dating of material found in sediment underneath boulders at the tower’s base.
The previous discovery and dating to the 18th century BC radically changed our understanding of the development of the city, suggesting that Jerusalem was home to an advanced civilization about eight centuries before David’s conquest. This new re-dating will force the re-writing of the city’s history, not only in Canaanite times but in the Judahite period as well.
One can speculate what might have prompted such construction and which king it occurred under. I haven’t read the full study (available here for $35), but from other research I wouldn’t put too much weight on the date, as radiocarbon dates in the 9th century usually have quite a bit of flexibility. But if the tower dates earlier than the time of Hezekiah, one can only wonder why he considered the relatively recent fortification insufficient and the need to construct a water tunnel essential.
A summary of the research is posted at the website of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
HT: Joseph Lauer
The north wall of the Spring Tower during excavations in 2004
I’ve talked with a few people recently who weren’t aware of some of what we’re doing and some of the options available, so I thought I’d take a minute to provide a brief summary.
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