Archaeologists have made another remarkable discovery in the Holy Land, this time dating all the way back to the time of King David and Solomon.
They have uncovered a collection of fabrics from the period of Israel’s most famous kings, a collection that’s being called “unprecedented.”
Tel Aviv University archaeologists found the fabrics in the Arava Valley, which extends from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat in Israel.
They conducted the excavation at the ancient copper mines of Timna, a site that some researchers believe to be the location of King Solomon’s mines.
According to the university, the 3,000-year-old textiles have a variety of colors, designs, and origins.
“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,” said TAU’s Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, who led the excavation.
“We found fragments of textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords,” he said.
Dr. Orit Shamir led the study of the fabrics. The senior researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority said most of the relics are only 5 x 5 centimeters and differ in weaving style, ornamentation and color.
“Some of these fabrics resemble textiles known only from the Roman era,” Shamir said.
“The arid condition of the mines has 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,” the university said.
“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 Edomites were descendants of Esau who warred with the Kingdom of Israel.
“We found simply woven, elaborately decorated fabrics worn by the upper echelon of their stratified society,” Ben-Yosef said.
“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,” he said.
Archaeologists say many of the ancient fabrics were made far from Timna in specialized textile workshops, and that provides a look at the trade and regional economy of the time.
“We found linen, which was not produced locally,” said TAU masters student Vanessa Workman. “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. This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been.”
According to Religion News Service, Workman said the archaeological find at Timna “is an affirmation” of biblical texts. “It brings the desert culture of that period alive.”
“This discovery strengthens our understanding of the Edomites as an important geopolitical presence,” Workman added. “The fabrics are of a very high quality, with complex designs and beautiful dyes.”
The TAU archaeologists also uncovered thousands of seeds from the biblical “Seven Species.” They include the two grains and five fruits believed to be indigenous to Israel.
Some of the seeds underwent radiocarbon dating, which archaeologists say helped them determine the age of the site.
“This is the first time seeds from this period have been found uncharred and in such large quantities,” Ben-Yosef said.
“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 seeds.”