Team discovers fabric collection dating back to Kings David and Solomon

February 24, 2016
A fine wool textile dyed red and blue, found at Timna. The textile used the various colors of natural animal hair to create black and orange-brown colors for decorative bands. Credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

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. "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.

"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, warred 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."

A trove of the "Seven Species"

The archaeologists also recently discovered thousands of seeds of the Biblical "Seven Species" at the site—the two grains and five fruits considered unique products of the Land of Israel. Some of the seeds were subjected to radiocarbon dating, providing robust confirmation for the age of the site.

"This is the first time seeds from this period have been found uncharred and in such large quantities," said Dr. Ben-Yosef. "With the advancement of modern science, we now enjoy research options that were unthinkable a few decades ago. We can reconstruct wine typical of King David's era, for example, and understand the cultivation and domestication processes that have been preserved in the DNA of the seed."

The power of copper

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.

"The possession of copper was a source of great power, much as oil is today," Dr. Ben-Yosef said. "If a person had the exceptional knowledge to 'create copper,' he was considered well-versed in an extremely sophisticated technology. He would have been considered magical or supernatural, and his social status would have reflected this."

To support this "silicon valley" of copper production in the middle of the desert, food, water and textiles had to be transported long distances through the unforgiving desert climate and into the valley. The latest discovery of fabrics, many of which were made far from Timna in specialized textile workshops, provides a glimpse into the trade practices and regional economy of the day.

"We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep's wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period," said TAU masters student Vanessa Workman. "This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been."

"'Nomad' does not mean 'simple,'" said Dr. Ben-Yosef. "This discovery strengthens our understanding of the Edomites as an important geopolitical presence. The fabrics are of a very high quality, with complex designs and beautiful dyes."

Explore further: Proof of Solomon's mines found in Israel

Related Stories

Proof of Solomon's mines found in Israel

September 3, 2013

New findings from an archaeological excavation led this winter by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University's Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures prove that copper mines in Israel thought to ...

New technique to find copper deposits

February 1, 2016

A geologist at the University of Exeter has developed a new and relatively inexpensive way to establish whether certain types of magmatic rocks are more likely to contain valuable metal deposits.

Recommended for you

Paleontologists discover major T. rex fossil (Update)

August 18, 2016

Paleontologists with the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and the University of Washington have discovered a Tyrannosaurus rex, including a very complete skull. The find, which paleontologists estimate to be about ...

20 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (15) Feb 24, 2016
Archeologists shouldn't use fictitious bible characters to date their work. Unless of course the people who are funding their work demand it.

But in that case they should look for alternative funding sources as a matter of professional responsibility.
BartV
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 24, 2016
Funny that ghost calls anything religious "fictitious" while believing in wild and unproven theories of evolution.

There is more proof of Jesus Christ than that of any other old historical figure. Why doesn't Ghost call other figures fictitious?

Liberals' minds are truly warped.

KeithMcC
5 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2016
Funny that ghost calls anything religious "fictitious" while believing in wild and unproven theories of evolution.

There is more proof of Jesus Christ than that of any other old historical figure. Why doesn't Ghost call other figures fictitious?

Liberals' minds are truly warped.


They found the (mummified) bodies of some.
But why would you care about proof of JC unless you have proof of God?

BTW, Hello Physorg, seeds are not "artifacts".
Playonwords
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 25, 2016
Could Physorg pleas stop using"David" and Solomon" as shorthand for real dating. There is no more evidence for these monarchs than there is evidence for King Arthur. No inscriptions by them have ever been found and no references to them from other civilizations. The artifacts and other organic matter date to 1100 and 800 years BCE.

Giving Biblical significance to these finds only encourages biased research and excavation as it was in the bad old days of archaeology in the Middle East.
del2
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 25, 2016
The Tel Dan Stele, dated to 9th century BCE, refers to "the House of David".
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2016
tel Dan stele
-Or...

"dwd" could be a name for a god ("beloved"), or could mean "uncle"... it may be a place-name, or the name of a god, or an epithet. Mykytiuk observes that "dwd" meaning "kettle" or "uncle"

-or "It seems likely the correct translation is "House of David."

-meaning that the David myth was already extant and local rulers knew that the Hebrews referred to themselves as such.

-or its likely a forgery

But the most damning evidence is that all that is left of this great kingdom is one fractured little stone, plus a whole lot of evidence which says that other things were going on back then which would have made it impossible.

No roads, no bridges, no walled cities, nothing. Jerusalem at that time was a little village. The evidence is clear.

-Your religious sources will NEVER give you all the info because it will always weaken their case.

If you want to know you will have to find out for yourself.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2016
There is more proof of Jesus Christ than that of any other old historical figure. Why doesn't Ghost call other figures fictitious?
The ONLY evidence is anecdotal and is found in your book. A large part of it is written by people who were clearly not who they claimed to be.

Watch the video if you want to learn.
https://youtu.be/2xH93PSZ6fQ

-You think it's reliable because you KNOW it was written by god. Correct?
Uncle Ira
3 / 5 (4) Feb 25, 2016
BTW, Hello Physorg, seeds are not "artifacts".


Well hello to you too Cher. But physorg did not write the article. It is from the university over in Israel that was nice enough to send it out for peoples to postem on their interweb places. When they do that, physorg is not allow to write over or change the words to suit their couyons, uh, I mean readers.
Uncle Ira
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 25, 2016
Could Physorg pleas stop using"David" and Solomon" as shorthand for real dating.
The nice peoples at physorg did not write the article or the title Cher. They just reprint him from the university over in Israel. When you do that you are not allowed to change up on the title or the article to make your couyons, er, uh, I mean readers happy.
Phys1
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 25, 2016
Funny that ghost calls anything religious "fictitious" while believing in wild and unproven theories of evolution.

I can explain that. Evolution is an observational fact. Religion is a delusion.
There is more proof of Jesus Christ than that of any other old historical figure.

It is in fact irrelevant whether Jesus is historical.
What is relevant is that there is no god, no second coming, no heaven, no hell.
Playonwords
3 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2016
@del2 The Tel Dan Stele mentions a House of David, not King David, the adoption of mythic figures by the insecure as ancestors is very common. The most obvious examples in this context is the identification of all Jews being descendants of Abraham and all speakers of Semitic languages being descended from Shem. Similarly the Bible identifies (the probably mythic) figure of Jesus as being of "the House of David".
Playonwords
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
Regarding the old falsehood "... more evidence for Jesus" only the Gospels and Acts describe a human. The Gospels are all late (70 - 110 CE at best), the earliest, founding Gospel is in the form of a fiction (the Illiad), what verifiable history is mentioned in all is frequently wrong and were all heavily edited during subsequent centuries whilst Acts dates to 135 - 165 CE.

The original text of the Epistles never mentions Jesus as a human, were all heavily redacted by much later editors. The "Authentic" Epistles of Paul are not even Christian, they are Gnostic and affirm that Jesus was pre-existant, the emanation of the true deity and is entirely separate from God.
del2
3 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2016
@Playonwords That sounds to me like a petitio principii. Would you also say that the mention of "the House of Omri" on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser is evidence that Omri was mythical?
kochevnik
5 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2016
If I find some poop dating from the time of Jesus, can I publish here?
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
I too reacted on referencing mythical, non-historical figures for dating. [ https://en.wikipe...toricity ]

Further weakening the anti-archaeological element is that the article mentions how very few thinks the copper mines are associated with the myth.

And how the researchers - and I use that term loosely because they seem to be biblical historians - for 'Edomites' to fit the myth, they would have used whatever in situ find as 'evidence'.

@Bart, del 2: "There is more proof of Jesus Christ than that of any other old historical figure," , "petitio principii [when compared to an actual historical fact, the likely existence of a non-jewish Judah kingdom: https://en.wikipe.../Omrides ; the Dead Sea Scrolls are clear jews didn't exist 2200 years ago, the first historical reference to jews are Josephus on King Herod that lived 2100 years ago, and they were still a minor splinter sect at Josephus time 1900 years ago.]"

[tbctd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
[ctd]
Are you delusional!?

The *description is a known fabricated myth*, which author's are known from text analyses as fictional. What would be the likelihood such a myth figure would be an actual historical individiual? Zip to none.

In fact, if you care to find out about the facts, there is only two [2!] things historian's agree on:

"There is widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings,[2] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[2][13][58][59]" [ https://en.wikipe...storical ]

This is one area where a skeptic find it hard to agree with accommodationist historians.

*'John the Baptist' is itself a mythical figure*!

[tbcd]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 27, 2016
[ctd]

And so are crucifixions, who have no archaeological finds.

[There is a vague analog of spiking into a tree at the time, but no crosses. Using a tree implies crosses were not used, and weakens the 'biblical historian' hypothesis further.

Seems to me the myth originated in the Hellenistic Conquest where Alexander spiked people to poles outside a city, the only corroborated historical description - Josephus's description there is non-historical with no support. The trauma from the HC goes all through the myths of the areas, including the religious.

In fact, as a skeptic one can't but notice the correlation between the trauma and the hyper-religiosity of poor and beaten ppulations, which includes the Greek style synthesis of Semitic, Egyptian and Greek religions and their pantheons of magical 'beings' into the Dead Sea Scrolls, and their later evolution to jewish and christianist myths. If the invaders were successful, why not copy them?]
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
3 / 5 (2) Feb 27, 2016
Let me expand on "accommodationist historians".

We have the majority of historians describing the subject as off limits due to the political forcing from religious groups that want to see their fake 'biblical historians' produce fake history. [IIRC Edelman describes this. There was a description on Wikipedia, but symptomatically it was taken down, despite having scientific references.]

Likely the strife is caused by religionists suspecting that actual history would either have little evidence, or rather evidence against as all archaeological evidence has been observed to be. When the religious myth tells of population changes there is none.

No interaction with egyptians the way as was described, say. The Omrides is an excellent example, because it shows that there were no religious interplay and the transferred group that was supposed to be large was minute and rarely mentioned.

Of course the article above is another evidence of fakery too.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Feb 27, 2016
Crucifixions in Rome were done by tying to trees. The cross in Rome signified victory and glory, and was often seen on shields. The Roman Pantheon was a place where every worshiper could pay respect to his god. Only after christianity did liberal Rome fall and the Pantheon became another symbol of liberalism's collapse into fascism and theocracy
ab3a
5 / 5 (1) Feb 28, 2016
The fact that such places exist has no bearing on what the Hebrew Bible or The New Testament says. There are also cities that were mentioned in mythologies that have also been found. Yet we don't seem to have any conflict with the fact that there were mythologies written around those cities either.

There is evidence that there were rulers such as Solomon and David because physical artifacts have been discovered with the sort of seal or text one would expect to find from that era. This shouldn't be a big surprise. The city of Jerusalem has existed and still stands to this day. The Yarden (Jordan) river still exists.

This is not theocracy. It is archaeology. Let the theologians make of it what they will. It has no bearing on the validity or lack thereof of any religion.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.